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Gaby Hoffmann: Survivor

How the actress—starring in this month’s dark comedy Goodbye World—would handle a real-life end of days

When a text reading “Goodbye World” sends itself around the world and the systems society depends on for order are shut down, things can get a bit complicated. And that’s before you factor in bunking with an ex.

In Goodbye World, the dark new comedy from writer-director Denis Hennelly, a group of out-of-touch college friends (played by Adrian Grenier, Ben McKenzie and Scott Mescudi among others) are brought together when the world as we know it seems to be coming to an end—a catastrophe they might have something to do with—and forced to confront not only a very uncertain future but also their tumultuous past.

Gaby Hoffmann stars as Laura, a somewhat infamous politico who finds herself reunited with old friends just as things are getting serious. Here, Hoffmann talks about stockpiling, survivalist tendencies and her own end-of-the-world plan.

How did you find yourself in Northern California playing a character facing what’s essentially the end of the known world?

It was a hot, miserable, sticky summer day in New York City. Just the night before I had a dream about redwood trees and the next day I got a call saying there’s a movie shooting in Mendocino County, California in a week. It seemed like a strange answer to my prayers, so I read the script and it seemed like an interesting project so I went out there.

Laura’s a complicated character—she’s a serious patriot with a checkered past, among other things. What drew you to her?

Initially I was drawn to another character, but the filmmakers saw me as Laura, and they really argued their point to me that she was the force of the film. They said they really saw me in the role, and it was interesting to me that they had that instinct because it was so different than my instinct and that’s always compelling. It’s inspiring when someone else sees you clearly as something you don’t see yourself. I took their word for it.

The movie focuses on a group of friends living through what might be the end of society as we know it. Do you have any plans for the end of days?

Currently the plan is to take a boat down the Mississippi River and try to get to Uraguay, but I didn’t come up with that. It was developed between my boyfriend and my mother, and I just sort of nodded. My feeling is that if the ship is going down, I might as well go down with it.

There’s an impressive, survivalist-type stockpile that comes in handy for your character and her pals—medicine, food, thing like that. Are you the type to stock up?

No, not at all. I recently felt very proud of myself when I bought more than one roll of toilet paper at a time.

What’s the mood like on the set of a movie about this sort of tragedy? 

I live on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere for about half the year, so the mountain we filmed on felt populated to me. But it was a lot of fun; we had a ball. It felt a lot like summer camp.

Your character, in one hilarious scene, dresses up George Washington, to she feels an odd kinship. Do you have a favorite president? 

I recently walked through New Hampshire with a group called The New Hampshire Rebellion, who are trying to draw attention to the issue of campaign-finance reform. We were in Concord and I went into an antique shop and found a plate from the year Kennedy became president and it had all the presidents up until then. I bought it because I thought if I ate breakfast off of it every morning, I might learn all of the presidents.

As we find out in the film, your character’s something of a crack shot. How are you with a gun? 

I’m a good shot. 

Do you have any other skills that would help you at the end of days?

I’m quite comfortable in the outdoors and I adapt well to new environments, so I think I could take up the reins and just figure something out.



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