Credit: Shutterstock/Philip Seymour Hoffman

You should be serious about what you do because this is it. This is the only life you’ve got

Philip Seymour Hoffman always knew he was unlikely to get cast in the traditional matinee idol roles. "I know I wasn't as handsome as some other guys, but I was OK with that,” he admitted.

But Hoffman was talented. During the 1990s, he started to creep into the background in many scenes in the best American films. Soon he was heading for stardom based purely on raw talent alone.

Hoffman tended to specialise in awkward, sometimes slightly creepy roles, in box office blockbusters and more artistic independent films.

He was funny as both as Ben Stiller’s friend in Along Came Polly and as Mr Lebowski’s loyal assistant showing the Dude around in The Big Lebowski. He was memorable as Freddie, a snob who falls foul of Matt Damon in The Talented Mr Ripley.

Born in New York he began acting in off-Broadway theatre shows and after his film success, still had a passion for the stage. He believed in keeping his private life private saying, "The less you know about me the more interesting it will be to watch me do what I do.” But he revealed in one interview that he’d abused drugs and alcohol as a young man and gone through rehab at the age of 22. He had conquered his addictions for more than 20 years before he relapsed in 2013. A number of substances were in his bloodstream, when he was found dead, at the age of 46.

His finest hour remains as the tortured writer Truman Capote in Capote, a role which won him an Oscar in 2006.

Paying tribute when Philip died, Robert DeNiro said: “He was a wonderful actor. This is one of those times where you say: 'This just shouldn't be'.”