11:16 PM - 12.03.14
I recently received an email from a journalist from Greece, who knows me from Shameless, and wanted to interview me for some Greek website affiliated with MTV Greece (Yeah - I find it all pretty damned weird too).
I was, and am, feeling very skeptical - first I thought it might be a scam of some kind, then just wondered who in Greece would possibly give a shit about some no-name American character actor - but no one seemed to think there was any harm in doing it, so this evening, I filled out her rather lengthy questionnaire.
Since you'll never see the article, assuming there really is going to be one, and if you did see it you wouldn't be able to read it (Cause it'll be in Greek), I thought I'd share with you what she asked, and what I answered.
You can check IMDB.com (Under "Jim Hoffmaster") for my tv credits. As for commercials, I've done spots for Progressive Insurance, Time Warner Cable, Fed-Ex, Hyundai, and AT&T, among others.
2. In Shameless you get the chance to work with great actors like William H. Macy, Joan Cusack and Emmy Rossum. What are they like? Do you keep contact with any of the actors from this show?
Of the three actors you mentioned, I've done most of my work with William H. Macy, which has been a big thrill, since I think he's one of the best actors around. It's a real pleasure to watch him work, and I'm happy to report, he's a very nice guy (Though the first time I did a scene with him, which was my second time appearing on the show, he didn't talk to me much - I think he might have been waiting to see if I was going to be sticking around for awhile!). He's very smart, and very funny.
Emmy Rossum is always going to be a special memory for me, because I did my very first scene on the show with her. I was very nervous, but she was so great to work with, I thanked her the next time I saw her for "being the reason I'm back on the show", because she made the scene we were in work so well.
I didn't get to do a scene with Joan Cusack until the 4th season (Last year), but it was worth the wait - She was very funny, and very nice, and like with Macy, it was fun just watching her work, seeing her do different little things from one take to the next, to try and make the scene as good as possible.
I don't really "hang out" with the actors on the show, by and large, though a couple of us are Facebook friends. The person I'm closest to on the show is Mike McGill, who plays "Tommy". I always enjoy getting a script and seeing it's a scene with "Kermit" and "Tommy", cause I know that's going to be a fun day.
3. How did you get chosen for the part in Shameless? How was the casting?
John Frank Levey, the Casting Director for Shameless, first brought me in to audition for a small part in the final season of ER. I didn't get that role, but he liked me, and when he started casting Shameless, he brought me in for that. And I auditioned for the show a couple times, before finally getting cast as "Kermit".
4. Have you build friendships in the acting business?
Some, but it's very tough. I think it's very important - because it's nice to have friends who understand what you're going through as an actor - but with actors schedules, and LA being a very big city, you have to really make an effort.
It varies among casting directors, but tv production moves very quickly, so of the hundreds of submissions they get for every role, the average casting director probably brings in 12-15 actors. That's about all they have time for. So if you're getting in to see a casting director, you've already "beaten the odds".
6. What is the shootings' duration for a scene like that?
It depends on a lot of things - how many people are in the scene, how complicated the blocking is, etc - but on average, for a scene on Shameless, most of the time I'm done in four or five hours, or less (That's from the time I'm called to the set to the time I sign out).
7. What is the best advice you 've been given in this job?
That your job, when you go in to see a casting director, is not to "get the job" - a lot of that is out of your hands as an actor - but to make such a good impression that they want to bring you back in again (The way I've heard some actors say it is "It's not about getting the job - It's about getting the NEXT job").
8. What is the best advice you could give in this job?
I didn't have a lot of on-camera experience when I came out to Hollywood - All my acting had been on stage - so it was very scary to have my first experience in front of a camera on the set of a major tv show (House). So if you have the chance to take an "Acting For The Camera" class, or make films with yourself and your friends, anything that gets you comfortable in front of the camera, you should do it.
The other thing I would say is to try and not be obsessive about acting (Something I have a hard time with) - Take your career seriously and do your best, of course, but you should also have other interests and hobbies. If you're a more interesting person, with a lot going on in your life, you're going to be a more interesting actor.
9. You keep an online diary since 2001. Why did you feel the need to do this and how did you decide to share it with the public?
I'd kept a journal since I was in high school, so the writing part came pretty naturally to me. But to quote someone writing about their own online journal, "I feel less alone when I write it. And I hope people feel less alone when they read it".
10. Could you name some TV series roles you wished you had played?
When I was younger, I wanted to be "Hawkeye" on MASH. I've thought it would be fun to play a "complicated tough guy" like "Sipowicz" (NYPD Blue), or "Vic Mackey" (The Shield), or "Tony Soprano" (The Sopranos), even if I'm not a very likely choice for that kind of role. But probably the role I'm most envious of - and he did an amazing job - was Bryan Cranston's, as "Walter White" on Breaking Bad. That was an amazing "character arc" over the course of five seasons!
11. What are your favorite TV series?
I just finished watching all five seasons of The Wire, which I thought was great. I'm also a big fan of Mad Men, Justified, Louie, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, The Good Wife, and The Walking Dead (And Shameless, of course!).
12. How often do you go to castings?
Like most working actors, not as much as I want to! But, on average, somewhere between 40-60 times a year.
13. What is the standard procedure for a casting? What are you asked to do?
The first thing you do is a "slate" - where you say your name, and sometimes give the camera your left and right profiles (And sometimes they ask me how tall I am, since I'm 6'2") - and then when they give you the cue, you do the scene. From there, it varies - They may just have you do the scene once and say "Thank you", or they may give you a couple takes, giving you direction (A few times, I've even had them ask me to read for another role).
In commercials, it can vary - sometimes you're doing the script of the commercial, sometimes you're just acting something out, sometimes they might ask you to improvise a scene, and sometimes (This is my least favorite kind of commercial audition) they just "interview" you on camera - I think those are for commercials where you're supposed to be playing "a real person".
14. Who is the coolest "famous" actor/actress you have met?
I didn't meet him on the set, but the actor I've been most excited to meet was Robert Duvall, when I worked at a bookstore in Hollywood. He was tremendously gracious, and actually talked to me for a few minutes about acting, which was a big thrill.
It was also exciting to meet John Cleese (who I shot an infomercial with years ago), Andre Braugher (On Brooklyn Nine-Nine), and Nathan Fillion (On Castle). And I'm still excited about working with William H. Macy, five seasons down the road.
15. Who is the most beautiful "famous" actress you have seen in person?
Melissa Fumero from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, who also happens to be really, really funny.
16. What day jobs have you done, apart from acting?
Since I've moved to LA, I've worked at Borders (The bookstore where I met Duvall), a movie theater, and presently, at Weight Watchers.
17. For most Greek actors it would be a dream having participated in such great TV series, even with the smallest part. What would you say to them and any actors who struggle in this business?
Don't let fear get in your way. And there aren't very many "overnight successes" in this business, so if you're serious about an acting career, be prepared for it to take a long time.
18, Who was the most friendly actor/actress from the series you have participated? Did you have any negative experiences -with someone who was rude or snob?
On the "friendly" side: John Cleese was very nice to me (Even if he was pretty tough on the Director of the shoot).
And when I was first supposed to work on Castle, the scene I was going to do got cut from the script, right before I was supposed to do it, and Nathan Fillion came to my trailer afterward to express his regrets, which I thought was amazing (A few weeks later, I came back, and got to do a scene with him and Stana Katic, which was great fun).
And when I shot Brooklyn Nine-Nine (A two-day shoot), I was thrilled when Andre Braugher sat down by me during lunch on the first day, and chatted with me for a good 20-25 minutes.
And David McCallum, from NCIS, was tremendously friendly, telling stories about his career between shots, and asking me about myself as well (NCIS has a reputation for being one of the nicest sets on TV. At the table read for the episode I was on, pretty much all the series regulars made a point of introducing themselves to me, including Mark Hamill).
On the "negative" side: I haven't experienced any real "rudeness" from actors on the sets I've worked on so far. None of those things you read about where you're told not to talk to the star, or even look at them, or anything like that (Maybe that's more a "movie star" thing). About the worst it's been is just feeling like "the new kid", and since you're only there for a day or so, no one makes much of an effort to welcome you or make you feel comfortable (The Mad Men set was like that). But I try not to be too critical when an actor doesn't make a point of being friendly to me on a set - Besides the fact that the leads on a series have a lot on their minds, they're just people, and some people are just friendlier, or more reserved, than others.
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