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Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Sister Writes Emotional Tribute 10 Years After His Death

Philip Seymour Hoffman Sister Writes Tribute 10 Years After His Death
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Ten years after Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, his sister Emily Barr wrote an essay about her very personal saga of grief.

Hoffman, who was found dead of an accidental drug overdose in his Manhattan apartment in February 2014, was remembered by his younger sister as “a cuddly person” who was able to take them “away from the chaos of our house” while growing up.

“My brother had a lot of loud parts, like his laughter and big gestures of annoyance,” Barr wrote in a piece published Monday, April 22, in The Paris Review. “The way he would jump up and dance around when teasing you — even after you’d pleaded for him to stop, he just couldn’t help poking fun one last time. He knew it was wrong, but he was going to do it anyway, and laugh until you were laughing too.”

Immediately after her brother’s sudden death, Barr began diligently searching her local library for “every periodical that even mentioned him,” which wasn’t an unfamiliar habit.

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“Early in my twenties, I’d begun saving every magazine or newspaper article Phil was ever featured in — at least the ones I knew about,” she explained. “I even had all his interviews on VHS. And here were the final magazine stories detailing his life cut short.”

As Barr began her collection, however, the purpose began to shift.

“At first, I just wanted to be sure I collected all the glowing obituaries reviewing the life and unexpected death of this talented young actor who mesmerized us with his art,” she continued. “But then I became obsessive. Even the weekly TV Guide put his name in the crossword: 15 down, 20 letters, ‘Oscar overdose.’ I added it to my pile.”

Barr noted she “didn’t want to read these articles,” but she also wanted to make sure they didn’t get in the wrong hands either.

“I didn’t want children cutting them up in class next year,” she wrote. “More importantly, I didn’t want one of my children to be sitting in art class and get handed one of these magazines and open it up to see their Uncle Phil.”

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So, Barr checked out every magazine from the library that featured her brother and got to work.

“I hid in the small space between my bed and the dresser with a pair of scissors I’d stolen from my daughter’s backpack,” she revealed. “I sat on the floor and cut all the articles and photos of Phil out of each magazine. I tried to make the missing pages look inconspicuous. But there was no way to really hide it, especially when he was on the cover.”

After returning the sliced-up magazines back to the library, Barr couldn’t help but reflect on the reaction of the bemused librarian and, of course, her late brother.

“I walked home in the snow, thinking about the mystery I’d created for her with the missing pieces,” Barr wrote, “and also how Phil would think I was ridiculous for doing all this.”

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