Profile: Philip Seymour Hoffman, director and star of Jack Goes Boating
The much-respected actor screens his directorial debut at the EIFF
This article is from 2011.
Born Fairport, New York, 23 July 1967.
Background Known as the ‘character actor’s character actor’, Hoffman has been a jobbing actor since the early 1990s. After playing bit parts in television shows, shorts and features, Hoffman got his breakthrough in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 film Boogie Nights, in which he shone in the still relatively small role of Scotty J. Since then his unusual looks and unsettling presence have turned good films into great ones, among them Happiness, Magnolia, The Talented Mr Ripley, Capote, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and Synecdoche, New York.
What’s he up to at the EIFF? His directorial debut, Jack Goes Boating, in which he also stars, receives its UK premiere at the festival. The film evolved from his work with LAByrinth Theatre Company – a New York theatre group that he joined as actor in 1995. In it Hoffman plays Jack, a frustrated limo driver who is persuaded to go on a date by his best friend Clyde (John Ortiz), despite the fact that he has an almost pathological fear of rejection.
Hoffman on directing ‘I’m not very good at directing myself and nor should I be. During takes I would walk back to the monitor and drive everyone fucking crazy by saying “I look awful”. But I relied upon everyone with me and their input to get through.’
Hoffman on truth and acting ‘Was there a particular person I based my character on? No. He’s based on the normal fears and insecurities of life that everyone knows. I just had to be honest with what those things are and bring them forth in a way that I don’t do in my own life. I think human nature is surprising. People in general are surprising. They are pretty weird, odd, and eccentric. I don’t think there is anybody who doesn’t have those qualities in some way. I try to capture that.’
Trivia Hoffman is a huge fan of American football team the New York Jets.
Jack Goes Boating, George Square Theatre, Sun 19 Jun, 8.45pm & Tue 21 Jun, 6pm. Jack Goes Boating will be on selected release from Fri 8 Jul.