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INT: Rick Hoffman

04.24.2007

You all know who Rick Hoffman is. You may not necessarily be able to put the name with the face but trust me, you know him. He was the dude on the cell phone in CELLULAR and for all you horror fiends, you will remember him as the American businessman who wondered if he should kill his victim fast or slow in HOSTEL. Now you know this guy, and if you’ve watched any television or movies in the past few years, you’ve seen him many other times as well. He has appeared on CSI: NY, MONK and recently in SHARK. And now he changes his loud mouth a-hole character for the softer, kinder Goldman in THE CONDEMNED alongside such heavies as 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and Vinnie Jones. He’s the guy that realizes watching a group of condemned killers and rapists kill each other for entertainment ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

And lucky for me, I got to hang out with Rick at the Wizard World Convention in Los Angeles a few months ago. And truthfully, after watching him as the a-hole in CELLULAR and HOSTEL, I found him to be as far away from those characters as anyone could be. Rick is a very down-to-earth dude with a seemingly gentle soul. He is so far from his character that he even felt he rambled too much and thought he may be boring me…far from it.

This is a dude that I want to hang with and just get to know because he is just a class act. And for that matter, he’s also one kick ass actor. Anyone who can pull off those characters and still make you dig them has to be great. Frankly, my favorite moments in CELLULAR were his. I was looking forward to hanging out with him and can tell you that I was not disappointed. We talked about reality television like "The Bachelor" and much else, he also spoke of working with Eli Roth. He even shared his impressions of HOSTEL 2, and if he is right, horror fans have much to be excited about.

Rick Hoffman

First thing I wanna talk about… Goldie [in “The Condemned”], how did they approach you?

To do it? Ah, Steve Goldman? It started out with my relationship with Scott Wiper who… it’s gone back through eleven years. We came from a very close bunch of friends and… there’s about five of us and Scott and I were struggling around the same time, and then Scott got to do “A Better Way to Die” and threw me a bone and asked me to come up to Ohio. I just couldn’t get arrested eight or nine years ago. And it started something good because within four months I got my first TV series and things have gotten better ever since. And now I was able to… he had me in mind for this role from the get go but he wasn’t sure if it could work out to go down to Australia .

Just because they can only allow a certain number of actors from the states for tax purposes, but it worked out. And I love the idea, A… because I was going to be working with Scott again and B… the part was different. You know, different than things I’ve done recently. I’ve been playing mostly a very hard edged, you know, slick… kind of assholes. And this guy is a very soft… he’s a softy and he represents the moral, you know, just moral value in this film. As I’ve said to the other guys, he’s the consciousness of the film. He poses the question, who’s more condemned? The convicts that are fighting for their lives and killing each other or the audience who is watching it and getting their jollies off of that shit so… it’s a cool part to have.

Do you ever watch reality television?

I have. You know, I watch briefly and then I turn it off because I’m so disgusted.

Exactly. You watch out of curiosity and then…

[Vinnie Jones interrupts for a moment to tell him]

Vinnie: You need to hang yourself??? There’s some curtains out there mate. [He’s joking, by the way.]

[Laughing]

That’s the humor I was talking about… where no one laughs. [Needless to say, I am] That’s Vinnie Jones by the way. Thinks he’s hilarious. [Laughing] As far as reality TV goes… you know what I mean, like I used to, like in the first season I got into “The Bachelor”. Just because I’m a romantic when it comes to the idea of somebody finding somebody in a very obscure way, I liked that. But then it got worse and worse as the seasons ran on. Let’s just put it this way, I was out before Charlie O’Connell jumped on board to be the bachelor. I was just like, “Oh, God no, no, no, come on.”

It’s a weird thing because you are watching this pseudo reality and you’re supposed to believe it, you’re supposed to buy it but nobody is going to be “real” surrounded by cameras.

Right. And somehow, in that particular setting… these people you could tell were just so unaware… they were so green, especially the first one. You could tell as much as there were cameras around there was some real stuff going on and this guy, he really… it’s kind of like watching… you know when you watch a car chase and you really hate to watch it but…

You can’t turn it off.

Yeah, you just can’t turn it off. Like watching that guy, just make so many f*cking ridiculous mistakes, it was just like, “Oh, that’s so… what an idiot.” And I keep watching because Trista was just too damn hot and he passed her up man. You know, look what happened. That kind of shit… the girl is still married to the guy Ryan and they are having a kid. And it’s been what, four or five years?

Yeah.

So that kind of stuff I don’t mind. It’s the things, I think I mentioned to you earlier, like “The Littlest Groom”, for the purpose of ratings… it’s so f*cked up. Why not have a naked bum on the street playing the banjo or something, like really offensive…

We’re getting there. The more they want an audience the closer we get to that point. They just get more and more ridiculous.

Yeah, I mean the guy’s small, is that supposed to be funny? I find that to be insulting.

I do to.

Ah, and believe me, I have a kind of, sometimes I do, maybe by accident say offensive things or I’ve done things in the past with my friends that are ridiculous. But, when you’re showing it on the air to millions of people, it’s like… enough.

And there’s a difference in telling a joke to a friend or just f*cking around then trying to get as many viewers as you can to see this person humiliated in all sorts of ways. It’s a big difference.

Yeah. And I also think the news nowadays does some really… it’s not the same news anymore, you know, they keep showing this shoot out, whether it be Columbine or any weird shoot out. You know, they know they’re gonna get viewers by keep repeating the episode over and over and over again. And I find that to be sickening. That’s something I can’t watch. And that’s what this movie; I think it’s the closest to what this movie represents. It’s the direction that so easily we can get into.

I agree. And you know, the thing is with your performance in the movie, there is one part where you can’t watch anymore and you back away. I bought it, completely. It was a very believable performance for this kind of film.

That’s what brought me, the combination of Scott being the director and the character… that is what really attracted me to doing it. Because I felt that this guy is a real human being. It wasn’t just an action picture to me, even though it is, and it’s f*cking tons of that. But I was glad to be a part of that and also at the same time representing something else in the film.

Well it’s not a bad thing to have a moral or a point with the action. You can have the best of both worlds with that.

Yeah, yeah… and also I think that’s what makes, if it’s easier to believe and coherent and makes sense there is nothing better than an action picture that has a little bit of that. It’s in many… “Blade Runner”, which I find to be, I mean, I’m not comparing this film to “Blade Runner”, I’m just saying, that’s the one extreme. I mean, would we consider that an action picture?

Nowadays? I don’t even know.

Back then…

Well, yeah. Back then, absolutely. A thinking man’s action picture, I guess…

Yeah. I can’t really think right now, but there are tons of them that have that combination.

Even like, “Deliverance”…

Yes! Yeah, exactly. I’m thinking more of like fighting films but anyway… we could go on thinking for a long time.

Talk about movies all day.

Yeah.

Now the first thing I saw you in was “Cellular” and I was…

Depressed.

Yeah. Well, no…

You were very offended.

No. I…

You walked out as soon as you saw my goofy face.

Yeah. Basically. No, you stuck out to me. Me and my wife were watching and we both were like, “that dude’s funny.”

[He Laughs]

And we were watching and it reminded me of a lot of people I’ve met.

Yeah… Thanks. [Laughing]

What happened with that film…

That was sort of… it’s basically what has transpired in most of the jobs I’ve had since, where you have a great director like David Ellis who sees the script and says, “You know something man. I know your work, I’d love for you to just sort of go to town on this.” So my first day was working at the Impound with Sherry where she’s not giving me back my car. So there’s a whole other scene written and to David’s credit he was just like, just whatever you want to do, just go wild. And that started, I don’t know why but, I just went off on a kind of a really f*cked up tangent. And all the people from New Line are sitting behind this thing and they’re like, this is working. So from that point on, that’s all I did in that movie. You know, with the Porsche and I spent a few days driving that fantastic car…

Yeah. That’s not your car?

Well, actually I have one in my garage. [Laughing] No, yeah… hell no. But so I got to really have fun. And that’s what’s happened… I’ve been lucky. Directors I’ve worked with tend to say, just do it, which I find to be very unique. When I did the movie “Blood Work” with Clint Eastwood and this is not to go over my resume, but this is what gave me the confidence to do it, is when I had this one dialogue scene with Clint who was directing the movie as well, he loved improv and I asked him, “Well are you just a fan [of improve].”, and he’s like, “Why would I not allow an actor to come in a bring what they have.” And I’m like you know what man, that’s Clint Eastwood. He’s saying that, and I’m like, well I don’t give a shit from here on in… you know, it gives you as an actor, empowerment. It makes you feel like as an artist you should be able to bring, I think, something of yours to a role. I’ve been lucky, because I know that there are a lot of people that have not had that experience. And also by the way, besides acting, I love rambling…

That’s okay…

I can tell you’re falling asleep.

No, not at all man.

Well , that’s what I also do as a profession so…

No, it’s awesome dude. It makes it so much easier for me. Now, I’m coming from Arrow in the Head.com and JoBlo.com so I cannot, not bring up “Hostel”. Let’s talk a little bit about that. How did you hook up with Eli [Roth]?

I think at the time they were trying to figure out whether or whether not Quentin Tarantino was going to play that role and then they chose not to. I think Quentin decided and they all decided that maybe it’d be a little too much to have him in there because he’d be too recognizable. So they were like, let’s go with somebody who is completely unrecognizable. And my friend Chris Briggs who was producing it, and also came up with part of the idea, with Eli in this film, he showed Eli “Cellular”…

I knew it.

And Eli said, call him up. And they flew me to Prague within two days. And I had, for the life of me, had no f*cking clue how I was gonna do this thing. Because reading the script on the plane, and then I read it again on the plane, the script was awesome, I thought the script was awesome. The script was just so well written and just really… very few horror films are coherent and make sense and have an interesting story line and this did. And the character, to this day, I don’t know exactly what I did to… Thank God the first day I spent blow-torching a girl’s eye out, cuz that to me, is so out there. To me, I was just like, “I’m blow-torching this girl’s eye out of its socket.” It doesn’t take much when I see that make-up and think, that’s gonna pump me up. That’s just gonna pump anybody up.

That was fantastic. And your expression man, you’re like, “WHAT!” [Laughing]

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah… so then I had to figure out the next couple of days what has lead me to that point, you know, in the locker room. And that gets a little more muddy and I somehow, I think just taking the nervous energy and the energy from Eli, all that stuff. Because there is nothing in my history that I could bring back and say, “Hey, how do I get psyched to blow-torch a girl’s eye out?” So I just, I don’t know, just a combination of somehow trying to keep it real and at the same time, if you’ve lost your life completely and have no direction, what’s that like? So… being in Prague by the way, insane, as far as the experience, beautiful city, beautiful women…

How long were you there?

I was there, I had a friend there, made friends immediately there and, ah, two three weeks. And it was phenomenal. Phenomenal… and you can tell… I had a feeling then that that movie was going to do well. Just because, I saw Eli’s execution, he just really had it together man, you know. He’s a wild guy and he may say some outlandish stuff but I think he’s a genius.

He’s a fantastic director.

Yeah.

And the thing is, he speaks to the horror fans, he doesn’t just…

Oh, no, I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival, the midnight show. He got down there, and he may be slightly long winded but boy, he talks to his fans. And I find that to be… it’s just a rare quality in most of these directors. I think he really takes enjoyment. Because he was one of those people, that’s a horror fan. That’s what’s really special about Eli. And he’s gonna be making a lot more to come boy. This is just the beginning for him.

No prequel action for Hostel 2 for you huh?

I think they talked about it at one point but it’s just impossible. But this is a very interesting story this next one by the way. It’s actually… some people are saying it’s better than the first. And I have nothing to gain by saying it. But I’ve heard that it’s actually more twisted, and not just for shock value. Just as far as the story line happens, I think it’s supposedly, either just as good or better.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and comments to jimmyo@joblo.com.

Source: JoBlo.com

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