NEW YORK - Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Ethan Hawke, Brian Dennehey, Amy Adams and Ellen Burstyn were among the stars who paid their respects Friday at a private funeral for Philip Seymour Hoffman that combined sadness and humor to honor an actor widely considered among the best of his generation.
The coffin holding Hoffman's body was brought out of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola by pallbearers and put in a hearse as family and guests began to stream out Friday afternoon. Streep hugged Diane Sawyer as they left.
"He left an enormous amount of love behind. It's a terrible loss," said Jose Rivera, a playwright whose work has been produced by Hoffman's LAByrinth Theatre Company.
He said the service was loving and simple, with people sharing their memories of Hoffman and laughing. "It was quite beautiful and heartfelt and sincere, and everybody had a lot to remember, in terms of Phil," Rivera said.
The list of mourners also included Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, Joaquin Phoenix, Louis C.K., Mary Louise Parker, John Slattery, Laura Linney, Jerry Stiller, Chris Rock, Marisa Tomei, Spike Lee and Sawyer's husband, the director Mike Nichols. Playwright David Bar Katz, who found Hoffman's body, was visibly upset as he arrived.
"Phil was a lovely guy, a great artist," said Lee, who directed Hoffman in "The 25th Hour." ''I was only able to work with him one time, but I love him and, a big loss, a big loss."
Hoffman, 46, was found dead Sunday of an apparent heroin overdose in his apartment. He leaves behind his partner of 15 years, Mimi O'Donnell, and their three children. O'Donnell was seen cradling their youngest child as she entered the church.
Police did not allow anyone to linger on the block outside the church, and the media was penned in an area far from the mourners.
A larger memorial service is being planned for later this month. On Thursday evening, family and close friends gathered for a private wake at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home in Manhattan.
The rumpled, heavy-set Hoffman was known to dive into roles and was nominated for Academy Awards four times: for "The Master," ''Doubt," ''Charlie Wilson's War" and "Capote," which he won. He also received three Tony nominations for his work on Broadway, which included an acclaimed turn in 2012 as the weary and defeated Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman."
The theater community mourned the actor Wednesday with a candlelit vigil outside his beloved LAByrinth company downtown and with Broadway's marquee lights turned off for a minute.
More tests are needed to determine what exactly killed Hoffman, who was found with a syringe in his arm and what authorities said were dozens of packets of heroin in his apartment. Autopsy results were inconclusive, authorities said this week.
Hoffman spoke candidly over the years about past struggles with drug addiction. After 23 years sober, the versatile actor reportedly checked himself into rehab for 10 days last year after relapsing in 2012.
Amid an investigation into Hoffman's death, three people have been arraigned on drug charges, including one who is facing a felony charge of heroin possession with intent to sell. Lawyers for the three people charged vigorously denied their clients had any role in Hoffman's death.
Many of those who attended the funeral had professional ties to Hoffman. He and Blanchett co-starred in "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Burstyn and Hoffman were in "Red Dragon," and Hawke co-starred with Hoffman in "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." Slattery directed Hoffman in his new film "God's Pocket," and Nichols directed Hoffman on Broadway in "Death of a Salesman." Phoenix shared the screen with Hoffman in "The Master."