Gaby Hoffmann admits she is a little out of sorts. To emphasize this, she repeats crucial words while she’s talking to make sure she is being clear. “I am truly, truly exhausted,” explained the 33-year-old actress inside the Austin Convention Center during the South by Southwest festival (SXSW). “These last few weeks have been the busiest of my life ever, ever.”
Hoffmann, best known for her roles as Caroline (Adam’s sister) on Girls, and Ali Pfefferman on Transparent, has been traveling around the country not for work, but to support Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. “I really, really don’t do much when I am not working. But I have gone from zero to 60. I got an iPhone for Bernie.”
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Today, Hoffmann has found time for one more cause she believes in, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, which assists and unites the acting community. At SXSW over the weekend, the organization hosted a panel (moderated by filmmaker Kat Candler) with Hoffmann, who discussed her career that has ranged from 1989’s Uncle Buck (from when she was 7) to her current Emmy nominated series. Afterwards, InStyle caught up with the new mom (her daughter, Rosemary, is 15 months old) to talk about her unique sense of style, fierce eyebrows, and what exactly she’s doing with that new iPhone.
You were on our best-dressed at the SAG Award lists last month and looked like you were having so much fun in your Rachel Comey dress (below) that night. What is your red carpet philosophy?
I don’t go out, ever. I don’t want to. I have a child. But I was like, I have to get dressed up (which I hardly ever do), I’m with people I love, and it’s a party—I’m going to have fun. I have a cocktail before I go. I wear something that I think is fun and comfortable and I go and I have fun. And honestly, I love it. To me, feeling good doesn’t have anything to do with what anybody else thinks or feels, so the red carpet is more like this opportunity event to be with people I love while celebrating this work I like.
You have a very distinct look, with your big head of hair and bushy eyebrows. Many of women find it inspiring and refreshing that you are so comfortable in your skin.
I have been the same since I’ve been 15, and about every six years I’m in fashion. I just wait. Nothing is more satisfying to me now that big eyebrows are in. I cannot tell you how many times I got a job and I was like ‘No, you are not cutting my brows!’ And now it’s in fashion. It’s so funny.
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Did you go through a period of doubt where you wanted to change those things about you?
When I was 12 and 13, I plucked my eyebrows and straightened my hair but ever since I’ve become a woman this is more or less how I’ve looked. I change my hair now and then and I just do whatever I want. I figured out at a young age that I shouldn’t do anything that didn’t make me feel good and if I tried to respond to anybody else [it’d be] a fool’s errand.
How do costumes help you get into character?
Marie Schley, who is our costume designer on Transparent, is f—ing amazing. Honestly, it is all her! She has the most extraordinary pieces she has pulled and I get to pick and choose. It’s so extreme and so wonderful that she does part of my job for me. I mean, she is really half of my character development.
Has becoming a mom changed the way you look at things, yet?
My only approach to being a mom, our approach to being parents, is that we be ourselves and keep living our lives in a way that feels good and offer that to our daughter. We really live in a bubble. We don’t have television. And we are home a lot. We cook, we read, we talk. I am hoping we get to keep her in the bubble as long as possible.
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You are very actively campaigning for Bernie Sanders. Can you explain what that means to you?
I went to Iowa because I wanted to be there, doing something. I don’t think of myself as someone who has reach, I was just going to campaign, but then his people said we can use you in a different way. I am out there as a woman, a mom, a citizen a human being. I am completely terrified about what’s happening in the world so for me it’s where I have to be.
I just joined social media a couple of weeks ago for the Bernie Sanders campaign, and I am going to get off it as soon as I can. I joined Twitter and Facebook. I went from zero to 60. I have a very boring Twitter feed unless you are obsessed with the election.