Cooper Hoffman made his acting debut in 2021, seven years after his father's death
The Hunger Games actor and his partner, producer Mimi O’Donnell, welcomed Cooper in 2003 and raised him in New York City. Despite being the son of an Oscar-winning star, Cooper said he never thought about acting as a future profession.
“I don’t think I ever really considered it a possibility,” the young actor told the Associated Press in 2022. “I was always kind of scared to enter that arena because my dad did it so well.”
In 2014, when Cooper was 10 years old, Philip died — years later, Cooper reflected on connecting with his dad's memory through acting. In 2021, he started his Hollywood career in Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza and told AP about his father's effect on his work.
“In a weird way, it felt almost like I was stepping into my dad’s shoes,” Cooper said of being on set. “It really was this feeling of: Maybe this is what he felt like. It was this weird out-of-body experience. I felt incredibly close to my dad through the whole shooting process.”
Here’s everything to know about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son, Cooper Hoffman.
He made his acting debut in Licorice Pizza
Although Cooper had no acting experience at the time, Anderson cast him in the 2021 dramedy Licorice Pizza. In a 2022 interview with W magazine, Cooper recalled how he got the part.
“I first heard about Licorice Pizza when Paul called me and told me to read a script. I thought it was weird, but I read it anyway and loved every second of it,” he said. “I read with him, and I fell in love with Paul even more, and I fell in love with the script and acting.”
Cooper landed the starring role, acting alongside major Hollywood veterans like Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper and Tom Waits. The movie became one of the most celebrated of the year and received three Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.
He was scared to start acting
Licorice Pizza was Cooper’s first role, and he was understandably intimidated at the start.
“I don’t think I ever felt more nervous in my entire life,” Cooper told AP. “The first take I was shaking. Paul didn’t use it, obviously, because I was stuttering my words.”
Anderson said he hadn’t intended to cast Cooper in the role but ended up choosing him over other more experienced young actors because he liked Cooper's energy and presence.
“There were a few I met that were talented,” Anderson told Variety in 2021. “But most of them already seemed at a young age to be overly trained, overly mannered and overly ambitious, which was not interesting to me.”
He received a Golden Globe nomination
Despite his original nerves, Cooper's performance in Licorice Pizza was well received.
Cooper went on to receive the National Board of Review's breakthrough performance of the year award in 2021 along with two other nominations: best young performer at the Critics’ Choice Awards and best actor in a motion picture musical or comedy at the Golden Globes.
He has two sisters
In a 2017 essay for Vogue, Cooper's mother, Mimi, reflected on his March 20, 2003, birth.
“I remember the doctor cutting the umbilical cord and handing the baby to Phil. We hugged and kissed and cried — he was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen," she explained. "Phil beamed with uncontainable joy."
In 2006, Cooper’s younger sister Tallulah was born, and his sister Willa followed in 2008. Both of his sisters had small cameos in Licorice Pizza, turning the movie into a family affair.
His dad also worked with Paul Thomas Anderson
Cooper’s role in Licorice Pizza wasn’t the first time the Hoffman family worked with the acclaimed director. Philip starred in many of Anderson’s films, including Hard Eight (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), Punch-Drunk Love (2002) and The Master (2012).
Anderson’s films — especially the ones starring Philip — had a big impact on Cooper growing up.
“Boogie Nights definitely made an impression on me. I love all of Paul's films,” he told W magazine. “But the film of Paul's that I adore so much is probably either The Master, which I know I'm biased about, or Punch-Drunk Love.”
Anderson told Variety that these professional experiences helped grow a deep bond between his family and Philip's. The director shared that his son, Jack, had a history of making home movies with Cooper.
He feels connected to his dad through acting
As the son of an award-winning and beloved actor, many fans compared Cooper's debut acting role to Philip's work. A review in Parade noted that viewers could "see the DNA of his father" in Cooper's Licorice Pizza performance.
Beyond their similarities, working with Anderson helped Cooper foster a connection to his late father since Philip and Anderson were longtime collaborators.
His mom is also prominent in Hollywood
Cooper’s mom Mimi has also had a long career in entertainment. She met Philip in 1999 when he was interviewing her to design costumes for a play he was directing; shortly after, she started working at Saturday Night Live.
Among her other credits are the film Jack Goes Boating (2010), which starred Philip, and the Patrick Wilson-led series A Gifted Man.
In 2023, Mimi returned to visual storytelling and executive produced The Horror of Dolores Roach, the Amazon Prime Video horror series based on the podcast series of the same name.
He is set to star in more films
After his breakout success in Licorice Pizza, Cooper was quickly cast in more high-profile films. In Wildcat, which premiered in September 2023 at the Toronto International Film Festival, he starred alongside Maya Hawke. The biopic, directed by Ethan Hawke, explores the life of Southern Gothic novelist Flannery O’Connor.
Cooper was also added to the film Old Guy alongside Christoph Waltz and Lucy Liu as a young assassin being trained by an older, wiser contract killer.
In January 2024, Cooper was cast alongside Rachel Sennott and Gabriel LaBelle in the comedy biopic SNL 1975 about the origins of the late-night show.
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