Philip Seymour Hoffman

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"Not only could I not get a job as an actor, I couldn't hold down the temporary non-acting jobs I managed to get," says Philip Seymour Hoffman, reflecting on his stint as an unemployment office regular. "I got fired as a waiter in restaurants and as a lifeguard at a spa."

With a BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Academy Award on his mantelpiece for his part in 2005's Capote, and a further slew of accolades - including two more Oscar nods in 2008 and 2009, for Charlie Wilson's War and Doubt - it's fair to say Philip hasn't had to worry about paying his rent in a long while.

Born on July 23, 1967, into a middle-class family living on the outskirts of the upstate New York city of Rochester, the sandy-haired actor started out life as a keen athlete and wrestler. His interests later broadened, leading him to enrol on a drama course at the Tisch School of the Arts in the Big Apple.

Pulled off a deli counter to appear in a 15-minute scene opposite Al Pacino in 1992's Scent Of A Woman, the budding thespian made enough of an impression to turn his back on the catering industry for good. "I couldn't even think about being with this legend. All I could think about was my own acting," he recalled. "Then it dawned on me, 'You're doing this in front of Al Pacino.' It was almost too much."

He was quickly noticed by the industry. Fast establishing himself on the indie scene, Philip earned plaudits from critics for being that rare gem - a character actor who inhabits each role completely, then sheds it like a second skin.

The varied roles on his impressive CV include a turn as a villainous arms dealer in Mission Impossible III, a gay sound technician in Boogie Nights, and a nurse in Magnolia. In addition he's also found success in the theatre, picking up double Tony Award nods for his work on Broadway as well as being recognised as a director of several off-Broadway productions.

One such project brought personal as well professional fulfilment, in the form of costume designer Mimi O'Donnell. They met while working on 1999 play In Arabia We'd All Be Kings, which Phillip directed and have three children. Son Cooper Alexander arrived in March 2003, while elder daughter Tallulah was born in November 2006, with Willa making her appearance just over two years later, in October 2008.
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