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Gaby Hoffmann’s Crystal Fairy

Gaby Hoffmann, who you will remember dearly from movies like Sleepless in Seattle, Field of Dreams and, of course, Now & Then, is starring in a new movie alongside Michael Cera. It’s called Crystal Fairy, and it’s about a group effort to track down the hallucinogenic product in Chile’s San Pedro cactus. Hoffmann plays that girl who was always spinning in circles on your college quad (or some version of her). She’s also due for a turn in Girls next season.

Add all this together and you get a New York Times Magazine profile, naturally—one that’s about as nostalgic for the Manhattan of Hoffmann’s youth (she grew up in the Chelsea Hotel) as you probably feel for her Uncle Buck character. There’s also some interesting meta-commentary (remember Mara Wilson?) from Hoffmann and Claire Danes, child stars who are no longer children. From Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s story:

Hoffmann doesn’t think it’s fair to compare her with the typical modern child star, or the modern survivor of child stardom either. “I was never as famous as all these kids,” she said. “There was no social media. We weren’t celebrity-obsessed as a culture. I feel like these kids are under a crazy microscope; they’re basically brands. And they eventually implode and act out. They need a break, and they’re not getting one.” For all that her family depended on her talent and skill, Hoffmann never felt that she couldn’t walk away from acting; she never felt that she was less important than what she could help provide.

Claire Danes, with whom Hoffmann became good friends as a teenager, suggests, counterintuitively, that it was actually the permissiveness of the environment that saved both of them. “Growing up in downtown New York City in the ’80s, we were ensconced in art and progressive thinking,” she says. “Our parents all experimented with raising us in a fairly loose, unorthodox way. A huge emphasis was placed on creativity, and our artistic efforts were never dismissed as childish. There was a sense that we — kids and grown-ups — all had the potential to make something of value. Our drawings were not simply destined for the refrigerator. We never felt patronized.”

And Sebastian Silva, Hoffmann’s director in Crystal Fairy, delivers the best indirect compliment I’ve seen in a while: “She could be wearing a Cinderella dress,” he says of his star, “and she would still be a mess.”

Crystal Fairy is in theaters this Friday.



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