‘Death of a Salesman’ Took Heavy Toll on Philip Seymour Hoffman

In lieu of the tragic death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman due to a drug overdose, more light is being shed on the toll his career may have taken on him. Specifically, his role as Willy Loman in the classic Arthur Miller play A Death of a Salesman in 2012 according to Rolling Stone, is said to have taken a drastic toll on the actor, significantly changing him.

David Katz, the Broadway director and playwright who found Hoffman deceased in his apartment told Rolling Stone in an interview, “That play tortured him. He was miserable through that entire run. No matter what he was doing, he knew that at 8:00 that night he’d do that to himself again.” Katz added that Hoffman confided to him that he didn’t want to act in theater again after the three-month run “for a while.”

A co-star of Hoffman in the film Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Ethan Hawke, shared that he had not seen Hoffman drink until his role in A Death of a Salesman. Apparently, he shared with a friend that after 23 year of sobriety he felt he could risk drinking “in moderation.”

The three time Tony Award nominee had a knack for tackling challenging and unfavorable characters. Perhaps his most notable roles come from films such as Capote and The Master. Several years back Hoffman stated in an interview, “[A]cting is torturous, and it’s torturous because you know it’s a beautiful thing. I was young once, and I said, ‘That’s beautiful and I want that.’ Wanting it is easy, but trying to be great — well, that’s absolutely torturous.”