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Friends, fans mourn Philip Seymour Hoffman at candlelight vigil

Mourners participate in a candle light vigil for late actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the Manhattan borough of New York February 5, 2014. R
Mourners participate in a candle light vigil for late actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the Manhattan borough of New York February 5, 2014. R

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hundreds of friends and fans of Philip Seymour Hoffman gathered for a candlelight vigil on Wednesday evening outside his New York theater company, paying homage to the acclaimed actor who died of a suspected drug overdose.

Father Jim Martin, a Jesuit priest and member of the company, led a community prayer during the somber outdoor ceremony at the Labyrinth Theater Company, where Hoffman formerly served as artistic director.

"We come together in a period of terrible mourning and incredible loss, and a period of overwhelming grief and sadness, but also to celebrate a remarkable life," he said.

"We will remember Phil in our own ways. We will remember how he touched our hearts."

Hoffman was found in his Greenwich Village apartment on Sunday with a syringe in his arm and plastic bags containing a substance believed to be heroin. The exact cause of death is still unknown, pending further studies, according to a spokeswoman for New York City's Chief Medical Examiner.

Four people arrested in New York have been charged with drug offenses possibly connected to narcotics found at Hoffman's home.

Hoffman, 46, a best actor Oscar winner for his role in the 2005 biographical film "Capote," had been a member of the Labyrinth since 1995 and also served as its artistic director.

Friend and colleague Eric Bogosian praised Hoffman for his courage and humility, as well as his prodigious output in theater and films over 20 years.

"I think it is important to note not only Phil's power as a great, great talent but as a person as well," he said.

New York theater actress Noelle McGrath described Hoffman as one of the most phenomenal character actors ever.

"He was an old shoe of a guy who could just transform himself," she said.

Mimi O'Donnell, Hoffman's long-time partner and the mother of his three children, is the artistic director of the Labyrinth Theater Company, one of the nation's leading ensemble theater groups.

A representative for Hoffman said he will be buried in a private funeral service for family and friends in New York. A memorial is planned for later this month.

The Labyrinth, which was founded in 1992, will also benefit from a donation campaign launched on its behalf by actor Edward Norton in Hoffman's memory.

"Some of the brightest and most original new talents of the last 20 years found their own success because of Phil's steadfast effort and deep commitment to this non-profit theater," the campaign said on its website.

Broadway marquees were dimmed for a minute on Wednesday evening in Hoffman's honor. In addition to his film roles, including best supporting Oscar nominations for "The Master" in 2013, "Doubt" in 2009 and "Charlie Wilson's War" in 2008, Hoffman was known for his work in the theater.

He earned Tony award nominations for his role as Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman" and for his parts in "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and "True West."

Hoffman was also working on the final installment of the movie version of "The Hunger Games."

(This story was corrected to clarify launch of donation campaign in 14th paragraph)

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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