Mimi O'Donnell is an American costume designer and executive producer, best known for her work in television series, such as ‘A Gifted Man,’ ‘Sandra,’ and ‘Saturday Night Live.’ After working as a costume designer in popular stage plays, Mimi went on to direct a play titled ‘Nice Girl’ for the ‘Labyrinth Theater Company’ in New York City. Mimi gained popularity when she started dating the famous actor, producer, and director Philip Seymour Hoffman. Her relationship with the Academy Award-winning actor is well-documented and it also forms the legacy of Hoffman. Being a mother of three, Mimi has fought her way through many heart-wrenching difficulties. Her professional journey, which pretty much began with Hoffman, culminated when she became the artistic director of ‘Labyrinth Theater Company.’ She currently resides in New York City, along with her children and their family dog, Puddles.
Childhood & Early Life
Mimi O'Donnell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. She attended a local school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and later joined the ‘Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences,’ which is now called as ‘Philadelphia University.’
Interestingly, she started her career by working as a hygiene assistant at a dentist's office. When she realized that she wasn’t having fun at work, she decided to graduate with degrees in fashion and textile design.
She then began to work as an assistant designer at local theaters in Philadelphia. In 1993, Mimi got an opportunity to attend the ‘Williamstown Theatre Festival’ in Massachusetts, where she met a few directors and producers.
In 1994, Mimi landed a job at ‘Playwrights Horizons’ and hence, she had to move to New York City. In 1999, she met Philip Seymour Hoffman, who interviewed her for a job as costume designer for a play titled ‘In Arabia We’d All Be Kings,’ which was being produced by the ‘Labyrinth Theater Company.’ By that time, she had already been hired as an assistant costume designer for the famous TV documentary ‘Saturday Night Live 25,’ and thus began her career.
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Mimi started working for Hoffman’s play and eventually became part of ‘Labyrinth Theater Company.’ Over the next couple of years, she collaborated with Hoffman and worked in almost all of his plays. When Hoffman became the artistic director of ‘Labyrinth Theater,’ she was invited to become one of the members of the company.
In 2001, she was hired to work as an assistant costume designer by the makers of the popular television series, ‘Saturday Night Live.’ She worked in the show for 20 episodes and then returned to theatres, where she once again started working along with Hoffman.
In 2004, she worked as a costume designer for one of the episodes of a TV series documentary titled ‘Independent Lens.’ In 2005, her name was mentioned as part of ‘special thanks’ in the award-winning film ‘Capote,’ which starred Hoffman, with whom she was now living.
After a long hiatus, Mimi made a comeback in 2010 when she worked in Hoffman’s critically acclaimed directorial venture, ‘Jack Goes Boating.’ The following year, she designed costumes for a few episodes of the popular television series, ‘A Gifted Man.’
In April 2013, she was made the artistic director of ‘Labyrinth Theater Company.’ She then started to shift her attention from costume designing to producing plays at ‘Bank Street Theater’ in West Village.
Mimi’s career began to take a hit when her partner Hoffman started fighting his own demons as he was addicted to heroin. Post his sudden death in 2014, Mimi had stopped working until 2018, when she made a comeback. She contributed as an executive producer for a couple of episodes of a television series titled ‘Sandra.’ She continues to remain active in the field of entertainment, working as an executive producer and costume designer.
Relationship with Hoffman
According to Mimi, she knew that she might share more than just a professional relationship with Hoffman the moment she met him in the spring of 1999. In one of her interviews, she had said that there was an instant chemistry between them.
Though they both maintained a strictly professional relationship for over two years, Hoffman decided to break the ice in the fall of 2001, when he invited her to dinner. They had their first date at an Italian restaurant in East Village, Manhattan.
Their relationship grew from strength to strength, which culminated at Mimi’s decision of moving into a new apartment with Hoffman. She could not refuse when he asked her to stay with him in his new apartment, which eventually led the couple to start a family.
At the age of 34, Mimi and Hoffman decided to have their first child, after which their first-born child Cooper was born in March 2003. Three years later, the couple welcomed their daughter Tallulah. In 2008, they welcomed another baby girl, whom they named Willa.
Right at the time when she was having a blissful life, Hoffman’s problems with substance abuse returned with a vengeance. After remaining sober for the last 20 years, the world-renowned actor started displaying signs of addiction during his early 40s. Call it midlife crisis or peer pressure, Hoffman started using prescribed opioids.
Despite multiple attempts to free him from the clutches of heroin, Mimi could not save her long-time partner from drowning in the ocean of drugs. On February 2, 2014, Hoffman was found dead in his apartment and the reason behind his death was stated as ‘acute mixed drug intoxication.’
Post her partner’s demise, Mimi distanced herself from theatre and films. She later said in an interview that she couldn’t even watch plays without Hoffman by her side. Though Mimi knew that her beloved partner will end up the way he did because of his drug-related issues, she later found out that she wasn’t ready to handle Hoffman’s absence.
She even contemplated suicide on various occasions, before deciding to live on because of her children. She now spends most of her time with her children – Cooper, Tallulah, and Willa. Mimi and her children live in their New York apartment, and they also have a French bulldog named Puddles.