Mimi O'Donnell is slowly finding her footing after the February 2014 death of her longtime partner, Philip Seymour Hoffman. After taking some time away from the theater world — where she first met the late Oscar-winning actor back in 1999 — the grieving theater director is back at work and opening up about her loss for the first time in an interview with the New York Times.
Asked how she's doing in the wake of Hoffman's untimely passing, O'Donnell said, "It is a ridiculous question — I don't know. There are so many people who have written beautiful books about grief, who have been able to say it much better than I, but I guess I would say that, after a year has passed, I'm able to function, if that's the right word, or be in the world a little bit differently."
In fact, O'Donnell turned to some of those "beautiful books" for comfort after the Capote star's death. Per the Times, she immersed herself in the writings of Joan Didion, Joyce Carol Oates, and even Emily Post.
"I was pretty stubborn in my falling apart," she told the paper. "And my kids saw all of it, because they should. What, am I going to hide it from them? I don't want them to hide it from me." (O'Donnell and Hoffman had three children together, Cooper, 12, Tallulah, 8, and Willa, 6.)
During that time, O'Donnell withdrew from her job as the artistic director at Labyrinth Theatre Company, a job Hoffman himself once held. "Even as the artistic director, there were times when I was like, 'I can't do this right now, and I'm not going to pretend I can,'" she told the Times.
She knew she'd come back, though, thanks in part to Cate Blanchett's performance in The Maids at City Center. (Blanchett costarred with Hoffman in 1999's The Talented Mr. Ripley, and dedicated her 2014 BAFTA to him after his death.)
"That was the first play that I saw after Phil had died, and she did that thing you want every actress in theater to do: She left her heart on the stage," O'Donnell — now directing a play called Nice Girl — told the Times. "And I knew enough in that moment to go: 'I love theater. I love it. I love what it can do.' And, not making a concrete decision, but knowing that I wasn't going to leave the theater company, I wasn't going to stop doing this."
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