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Gaby Hoffmann on child stars and coming back to acting on her own terms

Gaby Hoffmann stars in two films premiering at the Los Angeles Film Festival (June 13-23 in downtown L.A.) – Crystal Fairy, co-starring Michael Cera and directed by Sebastian Silva, and Goodbye World, co-starring Adrien Grenier and directed by Denis Hennelly. Hoffmann was a child actress, with featured roles in classics like Sleepless in Seattle and Field of Dreams. More recently, she’s starred in Silva’s HBO Go series The Boring Life of Jacqueline and the upcoming independent film Burma, plus had recent guest spots on The Good Wife and Homeland. Below in a post as-told-to EW’s Laura Hertzfeld, Hoffmann shares her story of how she’s returned to acting in a serious way after a long break, plus her advice to young actors.

When I was a kid I wasn’t making my choices based on anything other than “Did I want to work that day?” or “Did being in school sound more fun?” And I don’t remember ever reading a script and thinking “Is this going to be a fun part to play?”

I started working because we didn’t have any money, and it was a really easy solution — a surprisingly easy solution — to that problem. It wasn’t something I asked to do or had any aspirations about so I wasn’t honestly putting that much thought into it, other than how I felt from one day to the next.

I do remember when I was seven or eight saying “I really miss school,” and my mom saying “Oh yes, you should go to school instead of doing this hideous, disgusting movie business. Go back to school, we’ll figure something else out.” And then I went back to school and a few months later I was bored and said “Oh, let’s go make another movie.”

When I was a teenager, I was a little more interested, but I was still pretty sure it was just a means to an end. All I wanted to do was go to college and I thought I would never go back to acting.

I was never that famous but I do think going to college and really getting away from the business and taking a true break is incredibly, incredibly important if you start acting at a young age. It’s a risky thing to do. Kids I grew up with, friends of mine who were actresses, some of them finished, some of them worked through college, a lot of them made it work. It definitely affected my career, but I didn’t really give a s–t. But these young actresses who don’t take a break –- I actually think it’s criminal. I don’t think it should be allowed for people to start working at a young age and not take the time to just be living as themselves in the real world, especially now in this new age of new media and the obsession with celebrity. I think it’s a real crime.
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