• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2022: Cooper Hoffman, “Licorice Pizza”

While multitudes of young aspiring actors dream of seeing their names on the big screen, there’s the rare case of the unexpected star. Cooper Hoffman is the most recent example.
“Yeah, I never wanted to act before this,” he shared with the crowd gathered at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles for the premiere of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza. “It’s because I had so much trust in Paul as a director and also just as a friend. That was kind of the lure for me. Then, the thing that I wanted to do was just work with him and be with him constantly. “
The son of the late Golden Globe winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of Anderson’s most constant acting collaborators, Cooper grew up as part of a great community of creatives around him. Director Paul Thomas Anderson likes to build his pieces within circles of talent that become almost like an extended family – Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of those, working on five of his pictures. The connection between Anderson and the Hoffman family persisted after Philip died in 2014 when Cooper was merely 10 years old.
When Anderson completed the screenplay for what would become Licorice Pizza, Cooper was the first in his mind – and he had a gentle way to get him on the screen to portray Gary, the enthusiastic teenaged entrepreneur at the core of the story.
Cooper recalls when he first got word of the script, “(Paul Thomas Anderson) called me and said, ‘Hey, I’m working on this new script. Do you want to read it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, of course.’ So, I read it, and I was like, ‘I love the character. I love Gary. I love the story,’ not thinking he was going to give me a part or anything, but just kind of saying my thoughts. And he said, ‘Well, me and Alana (Haim, the future co-star of the movie) are coming into New York to do auditions. I would love to just hear you read it so I can hear what the words sound like out loud.’”
Slowly, Cooper entered the world of the film and began to dive into Gary’s sweetly persistent hope. “I love the story and I enjoyed Gary as a character,” he said. “And I enjoyed the actual relationship between Alana and Gary. That’s a big part of it, but I probably wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t Paul.”
Once officially cast as Gary, the young actor wondered if he should do some serious preparation. Well, that was not what director Paul Thomas Anderson had in mind, actually.
“I asked Paul, ‘Should I get acting lessons before we do this?’ but he was like “No, I just want you two. I want you guys with nothing. Just you.” So, no, there was no crash course. There was no nothing. The first day he didn’t even tell us when we were going to start shooting. He just put us by the truck and said, ‘Action!’ and then we went. We figured it out from there.”