Philip Seymour Hoffman: Inside the Actor's Very Private Personal Life

An appreciative son and dedicated father, who called parenthood "a revelation."

ByABC News
February 3, 2014, 9:47 AM

Feb. 3, 2014 — -- Philip Seymour Hoffman was known for his uncanny ability to morph like a chameleon into almost any role he took on, so much so that his incomparable prowess often overshadowed the movie he was starring in.

The Oscar winner, who was notoriously private about his personal life, was a dedicated father who was discovered Sunday around 11:15 a.m. in his Manhattan apartment because he had failed to pick up his three children.

"Somebody wanted me to talk about my personal life," Hoffman told The Independent in 2012. "I'd rather not because my family doesn't have any choice. If I talk about them in the press, I'm giving them no choice. So I choose not to."

It was this kind of devotion to his family that made it alarming when he didn't show Sunday to get son Cooper, 10, and daughters Tallulah, 7, and Willa, 5. Playwright and friend David Katz went to his apartment and found the actor, who apparently died of an overdose.

Read: Philip Seymour Hoffman's 3 Kids Waiting as Friend Finds Body

Hoffman, 46, met longtime girlfriend Mimi O'Donnell in 1999 when he was directing "In Arabia We'd All Be Kings." She was a costume designer and they had Cooper just a few years later.

But police told the Daily Mail that Hoffman and O'Donnell had separated, thus the need for the actor to leave his newly-rented apartment to pick up his kids.

"It's hard for anybody who works a lot and has children," Hoffman told People magazine about being a father in 2007. "But I wouldn't trade it for anything. When you become a parent, you look at your parents differently. You look at being a child differently. It's an awakening, a revelation that you have."

Hoffman was not only a hands-on father, he was an appreciative son.

His mother Marilyn O'Connor divorced his father Gordon Stowell Hoffman in 1976 and raised the movie star. He earned a degree in drama from New York University in 1989 and when he won his Oscar for 2005's "Capote," he made sure to recognize "Ma."

Related: Philip Seymour Hoffman Dead; Heroin, Needle Found

After an outpouring of emotion overcame the actor, he said "My mom's name is Marilyn O'Connor and she's here tonight. And I'd like if you see her tonight to congratulate her, because she brought up four kids alone and she deserves a congratulations for that. We're at the party, Ma, you know?"

He continued, "She took me to my first play and she stayed up with me and watched the NCAA Final Four and her passions became my passions. Be proud mom, because I'm proud of you. We're here tonight and it's so good."

Hoffman was so grateful for the chances he was given, he would try and give back, particularly to alma mater Fairport High School in New York.

"He was able to get back to the school and do some workshops with the kids, we really thought a lot of him and he thought a lot of Fairport," Fairport School District Superintendent Bill Cala told an ABC affiliate. "It's really quite a loss for Fairport."

Much has been said about his 2006 interview with "60 Minutes," where he revealed his past and present battle with addition.

"I went [to rehab], I got sober when I was 22 years old," he revealed." "You get panicked … and I got panicked for my life."

Hoffman quickly detoxed last May after relapsing, according to comments he gave TMZ He explained that he first fell off the wagon by abusing prescription drugs before moving on to snorting heroin.

Hoffman's family released the following statement on the actor's untimely death yesterday.

"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone," it read. "This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers."