Well-meaning parents interfering in their children’s lives is what Netflix’s latest offering, Otherhood, is all about. In it, three women struggle with the fact that their sons have grown into men while also getting back in touch with themselves. Jake Hoffman, who plays the anxious Daniel, chatted with Screen Rant about his character’s dynamic with his mother Gillian (Patricia Arquette) and what it was like to craft a character under director Cindy Chupack’s collaborative guidance.
I really enjoyed the film and really enjoyed your character the most. For some odd reason, I identified with Daniel the most.
Jake Hoffman: I gotta tell you, that means a lot. You know, the director had a friends and family screening in New York about two weeks ago. I brought my brother to it and showed it to him. He hadn't seen it yet, and he duh it. So that meant a lot to share with him. And then afterwards, he told me, he texted our mom just to tell her he loved her. And she wrote back, “I'm glad Jake's movie worked on you.” It was kind of funny.
Can you talk to me about what first got you interested in this project after you read the script?
Jake Hoffman: I just loved the script. Obviously, the pedigree of the writers, Mark and Cindy, speaks for itself. And also, I’ve since read the book and want to also share the credit with William Sutcliffe. I love the book he wrote.
But if I'm being really honest, I was excited about this opportunity before I even read the script. Besides connecting to the character; just off the pedigree of the stars. Patricia, and Angela and Felicity are all so great that when I got the email, I was pretty excited to see what it was. And then when I read it, I just connected with it a lot right away. It felt like, there was a lot of parallels between him and myself, and I was kind of excited to explore [that].
Also, I just thought it was really funny. Some of the parallels are maybe are more emotional, but I think the best comedy sometimes is sort of therapeutic for the pain underneath it. And the script made me laugh a lot. So for all those all those reasons, I auditioned for it and was really excited when I got the part.
How much are you and Daniel alike?
Jake Hoffman: There's definitely a lot of me in him. Definitely. It's nice when you when you act, you can share personal things about yourself through a character. It makes me more shy to like to talk to you and have people read personal things about yourself. It's a little scarier.
But I – my brother’s going to get two mentions now – went over to his apartment to run lines right before the audition. I told him what it was about, and when I described the character, he started laughing because there definitely was a lot of parallels between him and I. But then, in some ways different too. I just feel like I talked a lot and didn’t really answer your question.
No, that's a good answer. Can you tell me about Jake’s relationship with his mom and what he thinks about her before the impromptu arrival?
Jake Hoffman: Yeah. I think Daniel loves his mom, and she loves him. But it can be difficult and exhausting at times, and I think he loves her and can be mildly frustrated with her when he's in a good place. And then, when he's in a rut, he's a little more sensitive to the things that bother him. I guess like all people are, maybe. And so, a lot of the movie takes place when he's in that rut.
You and Patricia have great onscreen chemistry together. It felt real. What is it about Patricia that helped inform your performance?
Jake Hoffman: We did a little bit of rehearsals, not a ton, but a little bit. But I was glad we did, because first of all, it was really cool of Cindy. I'm so proud of the job she did and really love working with her. And I felt like she really maintained a great balance between having a clear vision, and then also being open to ideas and stuff. We had a lot of fun when we were kind of improving ideas in rehearsal and figuring things out, and some of them even made it into the movie.
But kind of it serves two purposes. It was great for that reason, which was kind of the first and foremost reason. But also, being such a big fan of Patricia, I got to sort of get some of the butterflies out of the way. She's such a warm, talented person that by the end of the rehearsal, I felt like, “This is just going to be really fun.” And it was. It just kind of clicked. I’m glad I got the opportunity to work with such great people, and I'm glad that you felt like it worked.
I actually want to talk about Cindy for a second, because something you said is very fascinating. I loved the direction of this film, and I want to talk about the collaboration process with Cindy. How was that? How much leeway did you have to create the character with her?
Jake Hoffman: I mean, I didn't rewrite the character. It kind of references back to the earlier question, but I was really excited when I read the script; I felt like I connected to the man as written right away. So there weren't any big things. They had already done such a great job before I ever got there.
But little things, just building on what they already had, and little things here and there. She enjoyed the process, and I really enjoyed the process. So, it was always having fun exploring and trusting her. I would kind of joke with her, if I had an idea for her. I would kind of joke that I trust her not to use my bad ideas and to only keep the good ones. I'm such a fan of hers.
I'm just excited to be part of the movie for my own selfish reasons. Creatively, in terms of an opportunity, it was great on both sides having an opportunity that feels creatively fulfilling and is also a good professional opportunity. Those are special, and you work hard for those. But since then, I've gotten to know Cindy and feel that she's a friend now. I’m such a fan of hers as a person as well as a professional.
We recently did a little bit of press together in Philadelphia, and I got to hear her talk about how long the journey was for her to make the movie. And now, having it come out is extra exciting in additional ways. [I’m] kind of just excited for this great accomplishment and how hard she persevered to get it done. I think they were trying to make it for like 10 years. I was just like, “Thank you for waiting for me to be the right age.”
I know that you have written a few shorts yourself. Were you able to like pick Cindy’s brain a little bit about her writing process? I feel like every writer has a different process and way they work.
Jake Hoffman: I don't know if I ever necessarily picked her brain about her process. Now that you ask that, I'm feeling stupid that I didn’t. But I definitely feel like I learned just from being around her and kind of watching her process.
One of the relationships I loved the most was Daniel and Erin’s. Can you talk to me a bit about that relationship and Gillian’s meddling affects that relationship?
Jake Hoffman: I want to be careful not to give any spoilers, but I think Daniel’s relationship with Erin was complicated. And one of the reasons why it was complicated is maybe he felt like his mom didn't approve. When you're thinking of marrying someone, your parents approving is an important factor. You want to feel that support there. And while she didn't hate Erin or anything, she was sort of less supportive than Daniel would have hoped for her to be. Which is maybe another kind of complicated thing between Daniel and his mom that now they're left dealing with.
With every role, you kind of learn something from the character you portrayed. What is it that you're going to take from Daniel that you can kind of either apply to your own life or to your craft?
Jake Hoffman: You're asking really great, profound questions. I feel like I'm doing a phone session with my shrink right now.
Inside the Actors Studio.
Jake Hoffman: Yeah, yeah. I'm sorry, I don't have an answer for that. I don't wanna I don't want to say just the first thing that comes to my head. That's a thoughtful question that deserves a thoughtful answer, and I kind of have to think about that.
Sure. What are you hoping that Netflix audiences take away from Otherhood?
Jake Hoffman: I think that there's a special thing about movies, where the audience projects some of their own lives into the characters. And, of course, I have my own specific ways. Some you see and some you don't see, but I think you feel, and that's part of part of acting. I don't necessarily want to spell them out, partly because sometimes that's personal and sometimes it does a disservice to your readers [and] potential audience to the movie.
I want to your readers to watch the movie because I'm proud of it. But I also don't want to prevent them by being so specific that it sort of doesn't allow them to see parts of themselves through the characters, which is sort of the whole point.
That's actually a really good answer, now that you said it like that.
Jake Hoffman: I'm glad I said one smart thing.
Oh, no. You're solid, man. I loved the performance. I thought you did a great job. And I really enjoyed the film. Thank you so much for your time, Jake.
Jake Hoffman: A real pleasure to talk to you. Appreciate it.