As a child, Gaby Hoffmann was a major part of some of the most iconic films of the 1980s and ’90s, appearing in Field of Dreams, Sleepless in Seattle, and Now and Then. By the age of 12, she even had her own NBC sitcom, Someone Like Me. But by the early 2000s, Hoffman had all but disappeared from the screen, whether big or small. Now 40, the former child star has eased her way back into the spotlight with roles in independent films and some of HBO’s most acclaimed series. Read on to find out what Hoffmann is doing now and why she’s happy to be playing a grandmother in her latest role.
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After graduating from Bard College in 2004, Hoffman spent years avoiding acting and experimenting with career paths, including being a doula and an Italian chef. She has said her reticence to act at that time came from feeling like it had not been a path she deliberately chose.
“I was obsessed with the idea that I hadn’t been given the opportunity to discover what was, for lack of a better word, my passion when I was a kid,” she told The Guardian in 2015 of these lost years.
After years of ambivalence, Hoffmann ultimately found her way back to acting when she decided to go all in on it. “I decided to say yes to anything that came my way for a full year and go at it with an open heart and mind. And in that year, a lot happened. I discovered that I really enjoyed it,” she told Backstage in 2021.
She spent the better part of her thirties reestablishing her career, starring with Michael Cera in 2012’s Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and appearing in the movie Obvious Child before becoming known for embodying unconventional characters in the HBO series Transparent and Girls. She recently returned to film alongside Joaquin Phoenix in the Mike Mills movie C’mon C’mon, playing the mother who must leave her young son with her estranged brother in order to care for her partner.
“The only pull I ever feel is toward interesting writing,” she told W Magazine of her recent roles. “Good, rich, real, interesting writing. That can be used to draw any character. I mean, everybody’s interesting in my mind, if you get to know them. I’m not looking to play any specific type of person, I’m looking to play people who feel complex and real and dynamic, like we all are.”
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Hoffmann and co-star Christina Ricci quickly bonded on the set of 1995’s coming-of-age drama Now and Then. Four years later, the two joined the ensemble cast of 200 Cigarettes as Long Island teens lost in an early ’80s downtown Manhattan. The two remained best friends into their twenties, according to Ricci, and have continued to stay in touch, recently doing a Vanity Fair interview together in which they reminisced, talked about parenthood, and Ricci invited Hoffmann to guest star on her series Yellowjackets.
Hoffmann’s longtime romantic partner is Chris Dapkins, a cinematographer and documentary filmmaker she has described in recent interviews as her husband. In November of 2014, they welcomed their daughter Rosemary. Their son was born a few years later, and the family moved from brooklyn to California shortly before the start of the pandemic so Hoffmann could begin working on Winning Time, according to The Guardian.
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Hoffmann currently appears in Winning Time: The Rise of The Lakers Dynasty alongside John C. Reilly, Sally Field, and Adrien Brody. The HBO drama chronicles the rise of the L.A. Lakers in the ’80s and ’90s, Hoffmann plays Claire Rothman, the first female general manager of a major market sports arena. She has noted the contrast between playing emotionally immature characters, like the irresponsibly free-spirited Caroline on Girls, and Rothman, a dynamic businesswoman (and grandmother) in her fifties. Despite having only turned 40 in January, Hoffmann said she was pleased to play an older character.
“It’s nice to be able to play a woman who actually looks her age,” she told Harper’s Bazaar of the role “And all my premature grays can finally shine.”