Photo: PAUL BRUINOOGE/Patrick McMullan
Gaby Hoffmann appeared as a child in films like Field of Dreams and Now and Then, but has recently been popping up for an episode of TV here and there. One such role happens to be on everyone’s radar: She played Louis C.K.’s (soon-to-be-ex) girlfriend on last night’s season-three premiere of Louie, in which she called him out for his inability to articulate what’s wrong in their relationship. We spoke to Gaby briefly about her appearance on the set, why she can’t watch most films, and the things that make Louie the best place to work.
How did your role come about? Were you approached?
Nope. I auditioned. I don’t think he knew who I was.
He hadn’t seen any of your movies?
I don’t think so. I don’t know.
What did the audition entail?
It’s kind of fun: They don’t send you any material. You don’t get to see the scene you’re reading until you show up to the audition. You can come, like, an hour early and look at it. So it’s all a big mystery.
Because the show is so personal to Louie, how important was it that you were familiar with his stand-up and the rest of the show?
I got the call the night before, and then went in the morning. I had been aware of Louie for many years, since the days of Lucky Louie. I’d actually never seen the show Louie, this one, this iteration of it. But I’d seen some of his comedy, and I’ve always been a huge fan of his. I think he’s one of the sanest, smartest people out there. So I was thrilled.
What is it that you liked about Lucky Louie? That show was notoriously polarizing.
I just thought it was brilliant. I loved his sense of humor. I think he has an incredibly honest and sharp and psychologically — accurate, I’ll say, view of the world. And I don’t know who doesn’t like it, other than people that I guess are offended by the nastiness. But the nastier the better, as far as I’m concerned. I mean, if something is smart and about real people and real stuff that people feel and think, then I like it. And if that includes a lot about sex and shit and whatever else, then that’s all the more real to me … I feel like this country is so crazy and contradictory and puritanical and conservative; the fact that people focus on the language and other superficial stuff of Louie is just depressing. Everybody needs to just relax and take a deep breath, and realize that what Louie’s doing is actually far less offensive than what all the well-accepted Hollywood bigwigs are doing. I go to see a movie, and it’s anti-woman, it’s violent, it’s stupid, it’s talking down to everybody, it has no expectation of its audience. That’s offensive to me.
Do you think TV is different in that respect?
I actually don’t have television. I don’t watch a lot of TV. I only watch things via Netflix, so I only watch the things that I’m choosing to watch. So I don’t, like, flip around and see what’s out there on television. I curate my TV watching quite carefully.
But you’re curating your film viewing, too, I would imagine?
Oh yeah, totally, totally. I’m just saying … I don’t see a lot of those kinds of films. I’m just saying the idea of what’s offensive is, you know, subjective, obviously, and I think that people are a little bit off in this country about what they should be complaining about and trying to shut down.
What was your take on your scene in the diner? Your character really lets Louie have it.
I love their dynamic and the way that she sort of — I don’t want to say mothers him, but challenges him, but in such a loving way. I thought it was a unique and fun, weird type of relationship that you don’t ever really see. When I read the scene before I auditioned for it, I thought it was a really funny character he’d written — the female character — then when I played the scene I realized my character’s not really that funny: It’s all about his reaction. He was cracking me up the whole time.
Having been on a lot of film sets, did Louie feel like one?
The set of Louie was one of the best sets I’ve ever been on. It did feel like a film set. It felt like an independent-film set: intimate, low budget, except without the stress. I only worked on the show for two days, unfortunately. It was just the most pleasant two days possible. And Louie, he’s just a real joy to work for. It’s a very collaborative experience, and he’s very respectful and nice to his crew, which is a really big deal. I think being on a set where people aren’t being treated as equals, and with just a common level of decency and respect, is really uncomfortable. As an actress, it makes me clam up. Louie’s set was totally antithetical to that. He’s directing the whole time, he’s very involved with the cinematography, he’s multitasking at all moments, but you don’t feel the anxiety of that.