Former child star Gaby Hoffmann is having a moment. Best known for her work in string of popular ’90s films including “Field of Dreams,” “Uncle Buck” and “Now and Then,” Hoffmann is having a career resurgence of late with a recent acclaimed guest appearance on “Louie,” a lead role opposite Michael Cera in the 2013 Sundance opener “Crystal Fairy,” and a part in the family drama “Burma,” making its world premiere in the Narrative Competition at the upcoming SXSW Film Festival in Austin. She also appeared last week in a hilarious new episode of Ingrid Jungermann’s popular web series “F to 7th,” as a Park Slope mom who knows how to flirt. (You can view the episode below.)
Hoffmann’s upbringing is one for the books: the New York native is the daughter of Warhol muse Viva and grew up in Manhattan’s legendary Chelsea Hotel for the bulk of her formative years. Indiewire called up Hoffmann to discuss her comeback, how her approach to acting has evolved, and what her game plan is going forward.
Your publicist surprised me by pitching you as a Futures candidate (an Indiewire column that profiles rising stars), despite your many years in the business. After dropping off the radar for a number of years, do you feel like you’re coming back into the industry ‘green’?
I have no idea what the publicist meant by that but I’m sure the information was presented to me in an email I didn’t read. I basically took six or seven years off, but then I had another five or four of me not working at all because I was in school. It was really 13 years of me not working at all… I really couldn’t even think about it. I did it just enough to get by.
I’m at least a different person now than back when I was doing this regularly. I don’t know if I’d say i feel green but I’m getting to know myself as an actor now in a way that I never did as a kid.
I never thought about (acting) then. I feel it’s more interesting now than before. Acting was something that I grew up just doing. I certainly never thought about it. So I guess the answer to your question is maybe, yes.
How did Sundance go for you? You starred in the opening night film which left a great impression, resulting in its Best Directing award win for Sebastian Silva.
To be honest, it was a very bizarre thing. I expected to have fun with Sebastian and with the friends who made the film. But I certainly didn’t think I was going to have any sort of extraordinary experience with my relationship to myself as an actor. It was really rewarding in a way that I’ve never experienced.
He’s really sort of the reason why I started working again. I went to Sundance a few years ago in support of short film a friend of mine here in LA made. We went there, saw the short film and were ready to hightail it back to LA. But we figured we should see some movies and the one that really stuck out to me was “The Maid.” I was at a point where I wasn’t feeling particularly passionate about being an actor. So we went to go see it and it’s such a good movie. It was sort of a rejuvenating experience for me.
So to be back at Sundance with Sebastian and this wild movie we made — one that I was totally uncertain about (I didn’t know how to improv) — I’ve never experienced that as an actor. I don’t know what I want to say other than it felt very nice. It extended the experience of acting into a realm that I’ve never been in before, if that makes sense.
From Sundance to SXSW. What can you tell me about the indie “Burma,” which is making its world premiere in Austin?
It was the first thing I did where I had this moment where I decided to take work more seriously. I had been for years, as I said ambivalent, and then I told myself it was crazy and that I needed to decide whether I was in or out. I had of just sort of committed myself to dedicating a year to work and hoping that year would somehow reveal my level of interest in it. So that role I got… it was a fun little juicy part. It again rejuvenated and revalidated my interest in doing the work. I have yet to see it.
92Y recently screened “Now and Then” here in New York.
I am aware. It’s very odd to me.
Are you one to revisit your past work?
I don’t have TV so I rarely come across it. But yeah, recently BAM happened to play “Uncle Buck” and “This Is My Life.” I have a 9 year old nice. I hadn’t seen “Uncle” in 20 years and I knew my niece would like so I took her to see it.
I don’t feel like I’m reminiscing my work. I was three years old! I had no idea what I was doing. It was nice to see that I pulled it off, but I certainly don’t feel like I’m going through some sort of retrospective of my life watching “Uncle Buck,” or even “This Is My Life,” which Lena Dunham screened at BAM a couple of months later. It was nice to see Nora Ephron before she died. I hadn’t seen that movie in years! I was so charmed. My little 9-year-old self is funny and great in it (laughs). I was just there doing what I did. It’s a different beat. I didn’t want to be an actor. I just wanted to do it as a kid and we needed some money. I just happened to be good enough to keep doing it. But I never thought about it. And I certainly never thought about the whole thing.
Now that you’ve made a very conscious decision to pursue it now — do you have a game plan going forward?
Well, it’d be nice to have enough money to pay my rent. So I’m working to do a paying job. Problem is I’m usually drawn to the not-paying job. So that’s actually my immediate priority. I’m interested in money but I’m mostly disinterested in the jobs that make you money. I’d be nice to have a house, a home of any kind, and be able to take myself to the doctor once in a while. I need security.
Watch Hoffmann’s episode of “F to 7th” below: