Gaby Hoffmann: From Hollywood to Bohemia and (Sort of) Back Again
Gaby Hoffmann, right, and Michael Cera in 'Crystal Fairy' (Photo: IFC Films)
She was a child star in "Field of Dreams,” "Uncle Buck," "This Is My Life," "Now and Then" and “Sleepless in Seattle,” as well as in TV series and a small screen version of “Freaky Friday."
But the Hollywood rat race wasn’t for Gaby Hoffmann. She went to college, became a doula (a person who helps home-birthing women when they’re in labor) and otherwise indulged her intellectual curiosity (“I spent most of the last 10 years doing very little,” she jokes).
This summer she’s back on screen, in the first of a quartet of indie films, playing the free-spirited title character opposite Michael Cera in Sebastián Silva’s Chilean travelogue “Crystal Fairy,” which opens wide in July after receiving a World Cinema Directing Award following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
Yahoo! Movies recently spoke with Hoffmann one-on-one about the movie, the hallucinogenic effects of the San Pedro cactus, and, ahem, pubic wigs.
Brent Simon: This movie came about fairly quickly, because of your relationship with Sebastián, right?
Gaby Hoffmann: Michael was down in Chile for three months, learning Spanish and preparing for “Magic Magic” (another film with Silva). But their film kept getting pushed because of the money or whatever. Sebastián and I had worked together before and became good friends. I love him to death and would do anything he asked me to do. He asked if I wanted to come down and spend a couple weeks doing it, so it was a no-brainer. There was no script, only an outline that we improvised from. We spent a week in Santiago doing pre-production, which really just meant hanging out and talking. And then we got in a suburban with another van behind us and drove up to the desert for 14 days — I’d say eight of them driving and stopping, and six of them on the beach in the desert.
BS: In the film Michael’s character accidentally invites along Crystal Fairy on this camping trip, and for a while one thinks the movie is going to be just about her suffocating these guys and them flipping out on her. But it evolves into something else. What was Sebastián's guidance?
GH: He said there was this woman named Crystal Fairy he met, and they went to the beach and took peyote and [that] she was kind of crazy and amazing and they had a weird relationship, and then he never saw her again [even though] she changed his life. In the film Michael’s character thinks it’s all about the drugs, but of course it’s not. But we talked about the drugs, we took the drugs…
BS: What’s the effect it produces?
GH: It’s like being on mushrooms. It’s a very sort of super-soft tweaking of your senses. Everything is a little electric and alive and extra beautiful, and you feel that your skin is the same as the air and your body is the same as the Earth. It’s very pleasant, and a beautiful experience.
Gabby Hoffman at this year's Sundance Film Festival, left, and in 'Field of Dreams' (Photo: WireImage/Everett)
BS: Crystal obviously has a tremendous amount of body comfort — do you have that in real life, or was the movie’s nudity anxiety-provoking?