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Read Bjork's2001 interview with Juergen Teller from the index archives.

Kathleen Hanna discusses writing and making music in this interview from 2000 with Laurie Weeks.

Isabella Rossellini spoke with Peter Halley in this 1999 interview.

Check out our interview with Crispin Glover by Richard Kern from 2000.
Alexander McQueen's 2003 interview with Bjork.

Gaby Hoffman,1997


Gaby Hoffmann is a fifteen-year-old actress and Calabasas High School student, a Chelsea Hotel transplant to the Valley. She's worked with some of the biggest names in film, in Field of Dreams, Man Without a Face, Sleepless in Seattle, Now and Then, This is My Life, and Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You. When I met with her one day after school, she had recently completed work on Volcano, one of this year's pre-millennium disaster flicks. I called the day before to get directions to their house in Woodland Hills from Gaby's mom, who warned me very emphatically not to go to the house with the white picket fence. I had to laugh. When I arrived, her mom came out to the driveway with a couple of dogs, and behind them followed Gaby, every inch the groovy teenager, her long hair twisted and put up with a couple of ball-point pens, a black leotard top, and men's flared double-knit pants from the '70s scraping the ground. Her mom suggested that we do the interview at the house, but I could just tell that I should give Gaby the option of going out. I was right. So we dished over coffee at Jerry's Famous Deli on Ventura Blvd. I loved the fact that even though Gaby is preternaturally self-possessed, she's still kid enough to roll her eyes at her mom. Gaby's speech is energized by youthful excitement and hyperbole; I was delighted to find not a trace of ennui, even if she isn't exactly wild about the Valley. Oh, and by the way, her mom is Warhol Superstar Viva.

TINA: Would you like a cigarette?
GABY: Oh, no. I don't smoke. I'd get into trouble.

TINA: Oh right. You're pretty young. Good for you. So, tell me what you're working on now.
GABY: Well, we just wrapped Volcano.

TINA: What does everyone think about the fact that Dante's Peak is opening tomorrow night?
GABY: Well, here's the story with Dante's Peak: We started working parallel shots so we could keep up with them, because they moved up their release date. They sent our office little invitations to their release. So then somebody on our crew gave out flyers for a special screening of Dante's Peak, you know, just call this number for tickets. And there were thousands of these flyers, so we blocked up their phone lines for weeks with people requesting tickets. So as a rivalry it became all about stupid pranks. Then they moved up their release date so far that they had to cut back on their post-production. And we decided we weren't going to fuck up our movie just so we could beat them to the finish line, so we're going to take as much time as we need and release it when we're going to. Maybe summer … but who wants to see two volcano movies anyway?

TINA: Who were you working with?
GABY: Tommy Lee Jones. I heard awful things about him, but he was very nice to me, and very professional. And he's a great actor. I mean, in my opinion, he plays the same role over and over, the authority figure, the lawyer. But I loved him in Natural Born Killers, and I was excited to work with him.

TINA: And he's Harvard educated, which in this town is practically unheard of.
GABY: But he's the typical Southern man. He had a mechanical bull and a lasso on a patch of fake grass outside his trailer. It was really hysterical. He'd be doing this cowboy stuff on breaks! But he was wonderful to me. I play his daughter. It's the typical action movie, but I saw some of the special effects when we went in for dubbing, and I was actually impressed. But in general, action movies are all the same to me.

TINA: Well now you've done a coming-of-age film …
GABY: And musical comedy, and now this. The whole range.

TINA: So what's up next? A horror film?
GABY: I don't know. I've got a couple of scripts to read. But I'm sick of doing the same part over and over.

TINA: Did Demi Moore hand-pick you for Now and Then?
GABY: No, I just went in and read. She wasn't there. But she was really great actually.

TINA: I loved the idea of you playing a girl who just wanted her family to be normal.
GABY: I know, when I have the most crazy, insane family that you could imagine! That was really fun, though, to play the dream little girl, riding around on bikes and going on little adventures.

TINA: Where was that shot?
GABY: In Savannah.

TINA: That must have been an idyllic experience, with the bike-riding and the swimming holes.
GABY: Oh, no, actually, they thought Savannah was going to be warm in the winter, but it was fucking freezing. Demi and Leslie and everybody were there in down coats and big snow boots, while we were in 15-degree pond water in shorts and t-shirts. And we all got sick. It was really hard. We were working six days a week, ten hour days, and we were always freezing. When we weren't in the water we were wet from being in the water, or from the rain. It was kind of a hellish shoot, but it was still fun.

TINA: And there was a scene where you had to go down into a gutter.
GABY: That was a set — and at the end of the shoot — and I said, "I'm not doing it unless you guys warm the water! I'm serious, I can't deal with it anymore, I will walk off set!" So they heated the water and I wore a wet suit. But the funniest thing was the rat trainer. I was down in the gutter, and he had five or six different rats, a couple of them were in the shot. It was so cold between shots and I'd be waiting while the rat trainer was saying, "We cannot shoot until Bobo and Momo get warmed up!" And the rats would get taken out, put in front of a heater, fluffed up — everyone would be waiting for this while I'm shivering and moaning, and I thought, "This is so insane, the rats are getting treated better than I am!"

TINA: Maybe they'll get their own star on the Walk of Fame.
GABY: Yeah, Bobo and Momo!

TINA: I remember, years ago, reading the People article about you and your mom, living in the Chelsea, and how you were beginning to get into the business. And I just thought it was so weird, like some Gypsy trip your mom was on. I envisioned her getting you all dressed up in little frocks and telling you to smile for the producers.
GABY: My mom is exactly the opposite of the typical stage mom. She's been great about it. She just sort of showed it to me when I was five and said, "Do you like this?" She never pushed me. If I went home right now and said I wouldn't do it anymore, she'd probably thank me because it's so stressful for her.

TINA: So on the scale of mother-daughter showbiz relationships, we have what appears to be the best example, Jodie and Brandi. Then there's the possibly unhealthy, Brooke and Teri. I could never figure that one out.
GABY: Then there's Drew and her mom!

TINA: Yeah, then you get all the way down to Patsy and JonBenet!
GABY: Oh, god! The pictures you see of that child.

TINA: They've got her trumped-up, looking like a two-bit …
GABY: … whore. That really was so sick.

TINA: Very sick.
GABY: But my mom is a really cool person, and she has had great experiences. I love to look at old books and see how much fun she's had. But we don't have the Best Friend mother-daughter thing where I run home and tell her everything that's going on in my life. I just don't understand that whatsoever. Everybody at Buckley was on Prozac and Ritalin, the rich kids' drugs. And the parents would go to the doctor and say, "My daughter's been in a bad mood," and instead of saying, "Well, she's a teenager," they'd say "Here's some Prozac." Everyone at Buckley would be like, "Oh my god, that history test was so stressful, I need a Prozac." They'd be popping Prozac! It was so ridiculous.

TINA: Well, that's not how Prozac works. It's not like a tranquilizer.
GABY: I went from P.S. 3 on Hudson Street, in the middle of the West Village, with gay porn on the corner, to school in Hell's Kitchen where there were drug dealers everywhere, to Buckley, where the only black students were the nephews of Michael Jackson, and everybody drove a BMW or a Mercedes, and if you didn't you were frowned upon. So it was so strange for me, and all of a sudden everyone's on these drugs that I heard about when I was little, when people were snorting Ritalin as speed. It's crazy.

TINA: Attention Deficit Disorder is all made up. Or it's just become a catch-all.
GABY: Exactly. And everyone in the world has ADD! It is so made up! The brother of the costume designer on Now and Then made t-shirts that said "Prozac: Shelter from the Storm." I used to wear it under my uniform at Buckley. And the first time I wore it, I was waiting for my mom to pick me up after school, so I had taken my uniform off, and this girl came up to me, and said, "Are you mocking me?" And I was like, what? Who are you? And she went on: "Are you trying to make fun of me? Because Prozac has helped me a lot in my life, and I don't appreciate you wearing that shirt!"

TINA: It hasn't helped you that much, honey.
GABY: Right. And she said, "I'd like you to put your uniform back on, because my friends and I are really offended!" And in that one moment I knew I had to go to a different school. It's a different world out here, and I'm just not meant for it.

TINA: Speaking of different worlds, what was Woody World like?
GABY: Amazing. (sighs) Amazing. I've always loved him, I've seen everything. And I was in my agent's office, which is rare, and he said, "Oh, Woody Allen called a little while ago, and he wants you to do his new movie." And I thought, oh my god, the person standing behind me is the luckiest person on earth, but there was no one there. So I said, "What are you talking about?" and he said, "YOU! Woody wants you to do his new movie." So I was like, well, I'm gonna go in and audition and I'm gonna blow it. And he said, "Woody doesn't audition people." I flipped out, because I think I'm just a normal person with a job, I go about my normal life, I don't think about work, this is something I just do once in a while.

TINA: So what happened when you met him?
GABY: Everyone was trying to tell me that Woody might seem a little strange, he won't look you in the eye, it's not because he doesn't like you, he's very shy, even when he's directing you, he looks down, and he doesn't say more than five words at a time. And I'm like, I can handle it. So I go in there, and the room's pretty dark, Woody's on a couch, and there's a chair for me to sit in. And there's a man in the back of the room standing with his arms outstretched under a light, and he had this long stringy hair. It was spooky, so I just sat down and said hello. And then I realized it was Jeffrey Kurland, who was the costume designer on the movie I'd just done, and he was waiting for a hug. So I hugged him and sat down and Woody says [adopts nasal New York Jewish voice], "Hi, nice to meet you," and I'm like hi, whatever. He said, "You know, I worked with your mother years ago." And I said "I know," and that was basically it. Two minutes of saying hi and bye. And then I went to work with him. It was very strange. But he's great, really.

TINA: When I saw that movie, I thought everyone in the cast must have had so much fun playing a family.
GABY: It was great casting. I mean, when I heard that Drew was in it, and Julia Roberts, I thought, this is strange. Of course when I heard I was in it, I was pretty shocked about myself. But it's not his typical cast, it's very Hollywood. Goldie and Alan Alda are the best people to put together, because she's so funny, so over-the-top, and Alan is a comedic genius, but so reserved and laid-back. And all of us got along. It was like a big party every day. And we got to go to Paris!

TINA: Oh, right.
GABY: I worked for two days! And I was there for ten. My mom didn't go with me because she gets sick before we go anywhere. My mom can't travel.

TINA: That's convenient.
GABY: So I brought an old friend, because I have to have an adult with me, this woman I grew up with in the Chelsea. She's like thirty but she thinks she's sixteen. We stayed in this cute little hotel across from the Eiffel Tower and just partied every night. It was during the strike, and everything was closed. We couldn't even go to any museums, so we just went to Turkish baths and hung out and went clubbing. And I worked for two days. It was such a big party. And Woody's hysterical.

TINA: Clubbing?
GABY: Yeah, we went out dancing one night. You know, they don't care there.

TINA: Is it possible for you to get into trouble?
GABY: Oh god, yeah. I'm in so much trouble with my mom right now. Big trouble. When we lived in New York, well I was only eleven when we moved, so it's not like I'd be staying out all night, but I never had a curfew, I never got grounded, my mother didn't know what these terms were. My mom used to take me to clubs when I was little. I went to Nell's more before I was ten than I've been since then. I'd be out dancing when I was five years old. Then when we moved here, well … my friend got into an accident recently, and that flipped my mom out, so now she's really strict, and she's scared. So now I have a curfew and she's become very conscious of what I'm doing.

TINA: How can you really rebel when your mom is Viva?
GABY: You'd be surprised! My mom has had a wild, crazy life, but now that she's in her 50s, a house mom in Woodland Hills who doesn't do anything but walk the dogs and garden, she's a little different. But that's cool, I don't hold it against her. I understand, because if I had a daughter, I wouldn't even let her go out of the house in this town.

TINA: She has to be really worried about the driving.
GABY: But even if I could drive, who wants to spend half their day in a car? And in the Valley, there's nowhere to go. I spent my entire childhood making fun of Valley Girls, and now I'm living in the Valley! When I moved out here I called my friends and said, "You're not gonna believe this, but I'm a Valley Girl now." I didn't even know there was an actual place in LA where that originated. And the first year I was out here, I was totally trendy, I said "all," as in "she's all." That first year was too much. "He is such the bomb!" So I turned into a Valley Girl for three or four months. It was scary, but I got past it, and I realized that it's really entertaining. At my old school, this group of girls used to sit by my locker and have these discussions of hair and make-up and boys, so one day I put a tape-recorder in my locker because I wanted to have it, to remember it, you know, for a script or whatever.

TINA: What fascinates me is how certain mannerisms and expressions that I think of as having come from gay culture, specifically black drag queens, have crossed-over into mainstream, straight white-boy usage. I went to see some guys I know open for Soundgarden, and I got into a fight with this kid from New Jersey who was dissing my friends while they were on stage. And he told me to "Say it to the hand." It's the Ricki Lake Effect. And you, you grew up with Taylor Mead reading you bedtime stories.
GABY: I grew up in the Chelsea, with heroin addicts over here, a professor from Brooklyn Tech who was a drug dealer on the side, people getting raped, fires, that was normal for me. And then to be here … But I always wanted this, the house with the dog and the garden and the pool, private school and the uniform. But I'm so glad that I didn't grow up that way. I'm thankful to my mother for raising me in the Chelsea in New York, because any other way, I would not be able to handle it.

TINA: So how exactly did this acting thing get started?
GABY: My mom tried to get me started when I was a baby, I don't know why. I guess we needed money or something. And you know how they test you — if your mother leaves the room, and you start to cry, they won't hire you. And I never cried when I was a baby, because my mom always picked me up, or did whatever she had to do. So I didn't cry, and I got called back for a commercial for diapers or soap or whatever babies use. But my uncle was taking care of me, and he let me cry all night long, so I went to the second audition, and I cried. So my career was over. That was my first shot. Then when I was five, I did this thing called Don't Do Drugs, with …

TINA: McGruff? McDuff, the Crime Dog?
GABY: Right, and Drew Barrymore was in it, so I met her when she was thirteen, if you can believe that — Drew saying, "Don't do drugs!" We know what she was doing when she was thirteen. And then came Field of Dreams, and I loved it so much. But when I was in third grade, you know, I didn't want to think about a career, all I wanted to do was hang out and make friendship bracelets, so I said I was retired. I retired when I was eight. I quit for a year, but then school got to seem boring, of course, so I started again. That's it, that's how it happened.

TINA: And how does school work when you have to go on location?
GABY: I have a tutor, and I fax in my assignments. But when I go to school, I'm totally amazed at how three-quarters of what is taught is totally useless. School would be great if we got to choose our courses, like college, but they force the most ridiculous things on you! Like Geometry. But two and a half more years, and it's over. I don't care about my senior prom and all that. These are NOT the Golden Years of my life, okay?

TINA: You can make movies for the next two-and-a-half years to escape the drudgery of high school, but still have the fun of being a teenager. I want to be you!
GABY: (Laughs) No you don't! Oh, god, no you don't.
TINA: What a life you've had, from the Eloise of The Chelsea to being a movie star!
GABY: Hardly. It's still not real for me. It's so stupid! Half the time I wish I never got into it, just because I hate Hollywood, and I hate what it's about, and everybody who runs it, everybody who's involved, and I'm afraid I'm gonna get sucked into it and become one of them. As long as I don't, I don't care.

TINA: I'm wondering, if you don't mind my asking, what percentage of your earnings do you actually get?
GABY: 20% goes into a trust fund that I get when I'm eighteen or when I'm emancipated. It's basically meant for college. Then 10% goes to my agent, 30% goes to the government, and the rest we get, and we live on that.

TINA: And what do you do when you get a nice paycheck?
GABY: Well, it's not like I go out and spend it. It goes into the bank, and we buy our groceries, and pay our rent.

TINA: Are we talking a primary breadwinner situation here?
GABY: I don't have an allowance, and I don't go out and spend all the money.
TINA: So we won't be seeing you at Fred Segal.
GABY: No. I have a friend out here whose parents are producers and directors. She drives a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and her favorite store is Fred Segal, and when I spend the weekend with her she drags me to Fred Segal. People used to buy me stuff from there and I'd go return it all the time. I think the prices are a joke. To me, Fred Segal is hell. I hate it there, but it's so entertaining. You'll find David Hasselhoff hanging out there on the weekend.

TINA: Oh, you know who I saw there the other day? Richard Simmons. And somehow, we ended up in this embrace, and he said, "Okay, let's do the scene where Robert Redford turns and …" But I love him, I really do. I love people who have a look and never, ever change it. Richard Simmons has had those striped shorts and tank tops and that hair for twenty years, and he looks great! But he needs a different mascara. Too clumpy.
GABY: He is sooo funny.

TINA: So who would you like to work with that you haven't yet?
GABY: Oh, that's a toughie. You know, all the obvious people, all the greats …

TINA: Marty.
GABY: I'd like to work with him. And Mike Leigh. Because he works without a script, the entire thing is improv. Woody is like that to an extent, that's why it's so natural, with overlapping conversations and stuff. I'd love to work with Woody again more than anything.

TINA: Do you have any showbiz crushes?
GABY: Oh god, no. I hate the whole thing when you meet other people and just because they're in the business too, they act like they really know you after two minutes. Ugh.

TINA: Well, I just thought you have access to so many people because of your work, you're not limited to boys at school.
GABY: Well, I had a crush on Ray Liotta when I was five. [A group of four teenagers drives by in a convertible.]

TINA: When I first moved out here, I can remember seeing groups of happy teens in cars and envying them for their blissful ignorance. I had graduated from college and lived in New York and had a nervous breakdown, and these kids seemed not to have a care in the world. Do you ever feel like life would be easier if you were stupid?
GABY: I've thought about that, but I would never want it. Because stupid people are really, really BORING. What do they have to say to each other?

TINA: Yeah, it's much better to be a freak.
GABY: Yeah!

TINA: Have you seen Evita?
GABY: I'm not gonna see Evita until it's out on video, so I can watch an hour, take a break. I couldn't sit through the entire thing straight.

TINA: It's very sumptuous, it looks great. I thought Antonio Banderas did well with the singing. But Madonna's voice is too weak for that role, it doesn't fit the character.
GABY: Right. And that's not her.

TINA: Although her weak voice worked well in the death scene. I saw the show on Broadway with Patti Lupone when I was probably your age, and Patti Lupone can fucking sing.
GABY: Well, Madonna did win the Golden Globe … [much gagging at the table]

TINA: She's a pop star. Be a pop star, make your records, go on tour. Go to Vegas! She can play Vegas, but she should stay out of Hollywood.
GABY: It's like the basketball players. You're a basketball player. You're not a model, you're not an actor.

TINA: And all those singing lessons Madonna takes. What a waste.
GABY: Speaking of being somebody's daughter … imagine being her daughter!

© index magazinegelatin1
Gaby Hoffman Wolfgang Tillmans, 1997
© index magazinetobias
Gaby Hoffman Wolfgang Tillmans, 1997



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