Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has been found dead in his New York City apartment of an apparent drug overdose, according to a New York Police Department source.

Reuters news agency reported that the source said Hoffman was found on Sunday after a 911 emergency call from the actor's friend. The source gave no further details.

The New York Times, quoting a law enforcement official, said investigators found a syringe in Hoffman's arm and an envelope containing what was believed to be heroin.

Norm Wilner, senior film writer and critic with NOW magazine, talks to Al Jazeera about Hoffman's film legacy.

Hoffman's public relations agency, Image Management, issued the following statement on behalf of his family:

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone. 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.”

Hoffman, 46, won the Academy Award for best actor for the 2005 biographical film Capote, and received three Academy Award nominations as best supporting actor.

Hoffman, who is survived by three children with his partner Mimi O'Donnell, had detailed his struggles with substance abuse in the past.

Hoffman spoke in the past of struggling with drugs, including a 2006 interview in which he told CBS he had abused "anything I could get my hands on. I liked it all."

Intense roles

After more than a dozen earlier roles, Hoffman burst onto the film scene in 1997's "Boogie Nights," in which he played a lovelorn gay man, in the movie about the porn industry that helped make Mark Wahlberg a star.

Hoffman appeared in blockbusters such as "Twister" and "The Hunger Games" series.

But he was more often associated with the independent film world for his intense portrayals of often disturbing and complex characters in such films as "Happiness," in which he played an obscene phone caller, and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."

In the latter, he played a son who schemes to rob his parents' jewelry store, resulting in their deaths. But Hoffman could also play nice, as in "Magnolia," in which he played the role of an angelic nurse.

Other noteworthy films included "Moneyball," "The Savages," "Cold Mountain" and "Scent of a Woman," one of his earliest films, for which Al Pacino won an Oscar.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies