FORT GREENE — Struggling to make rent is a regular thing for most New Yorkers — even famous ones who have starred in Oscar-nominated movies.
Gaby Hoffman was once a child actress, starring in “Field of Dreams,” “Uncle Buck” and “Sleepless in Seattle.” After taking a break to go to school, Hoffman spent her 20s off-screen, ambivalent about acting. Then there was a point, she confessed to DNAinfo New York, when she was looking for a job, any job, just to cover her living expenses.
Now, the 31-year-old is starring in the indie road trip film “Crystal Fairy” (opening July 12) by Chilean director Sebastian Silva. Hoffman plays the titular character — an earth mother type prone to random acts of nudity — who accompanies a narcissistic hipster (Michael Cera) on a road trip seeking a psychedelic cactus. She will also appear in season three of “Girls.”
Hoffman, who spent her first 10 years growing up in the Chelsea Hotel with her mother, Viva, an actress and writer in Andy Warhol’s circle, got down to brass tacks about her new film and her current beloved neighborhood, Fort Greene.
Q. Since you grew up in New York, you must’ve made a very educated decision about where to live now. Why Fort Greene?
A. In the past six years, I’ve been quite a gypsy. I’ve spent most of my time in the Catskill Mountains, then, East Village, Brooklyn, Harlem, Brooklyn, L.A., upstate New York. I was really not even sure I wanted to be in the city. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to afford living in the city in any real way because it’s a f—ing insane mall of rich people … It was a little by default that I ended up in Fort Greene, but it is the neighborhood in Brooklyn that I really, really love the most, other than Greenpoint, even though they’ve obviously been gentrified like almost every neighborhood has.
Q. What makes Fort Greene special?
A. This influx of Manhattanites or whatever, young, white people or yuppies or whatever you want to call it, it didn’t drive out the community that was living there. Fort Greene was one of the few neighborhoods in the city that was inhabited by a middle and upper middle class intellectual African American community. We didn’t come into the neighborhood and drive out the people that had been living there forever. ... It’s a truly diverse neighborhood. Go to Fort Greene Park on a Saturday and it is like f—king Utopia … Fort Greene feels to me the way New York felt when I was a kid.
Q. Where do you like to spend time in the neighborhood?
A. I love BAM. I feel like living near BAM is one of the greatest things that anybody could ever have in their existence. Obviously, the park is fantastic. The farmer’s market is right there. I’m a fairly domestic person and I just moved into a really nice apartment so I really like staying home. I like to cook and I don’t really go out too much these days.
Madiba’s fun to hang out to get a drink and Roman’s has brunch on the weekends, but it’s f—king expensive.
Q. You’re acting a lot more now — is your schedule packed?
A. It’s not like I made the choice for many years to just not take jobs. I quit working to go to college and after that, I really didn’t know if I wanted to work. I felt very ambivalent about it. And when I went to college I really did not think I would ever act again.
[I was] really ambivalent and depressed and confused and trying other things. Only in the past couple of years, really, did I decide that I wanted to fully engage and focus and see how that felt.
Once I put my mind to it and put my focus and energy into and really started loving it … it’s been nice that I’ve been able to work a lot and do cool stuff. But it’s not like I’m like ‘ok now let’s pack my schedule.’