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Philip Seymour Hoffman  ('Owning Mahowny') Philip Seymour Hoffman ('Owning Mahowny')
'Owning The Dream'

Philip Seymour Hoffman has become Hollywood's byword for dysfunction thanks to oddball turns in 'Boogie Nights', 'Happiness', 'State and Main', 'Love Liza' and now in fact-based comedy-drama 'Owning Mahowny' about the perils of compulsive gambling.

Taking some time out with the man himself, and knowing that his last project 'Love Liza' had actually been written by his own brother, Gordy, I wondered how that had all come about? "Yes, my brother wrote the screenplay. He's my older brother too. You know, this isn't: "My teenage brother wrote a screenplay and he wants..." My older brother's been writing plays. He's a writer. And once I got into it and realized how great it was, he just became another great writer to me. It was just another film I wanted to make."

So, he just wrote it on a whim for you?! "Not quite. I went to him and said, "You should make this." It was in that first conversation that we felt maybe I should play it and then it took us five years to get money because we didn't have any!"

Tell me more about your role in your new film, 'Owning Mahowny' "He's very confused. He's not sure why he does certain things, but just knows that he has to keep doing them to somehow break even. My character only gambles in order to win enough to enable him to continue gambling! But, in order for him to do that, he has to 'borrow' money from the wrong people at the wrong time!"

How do you sell this film to audiences? "It's a very intense story for sure, but a black comedy for the most part. It's such an entertaining movie to watch. Every time I watch it, I see a lot of layers and colours about life in this movie. It's not just one thing. It's not just grief from beginning to end. That's why I loved it when I read it. It shows sadness and grief and sorrow in all the different colours that it comes in, so there's a lot of humour in it also. That's why I feel strongly about it."

You do seem to play a lot of complex, grief-stricken or troubled characters. Why is that? "I think everybody's troubled. I think that's part of what it's like living on this planet. You just read the paper and you're troubled! That's how I look at the characters I play. I don't think they're all sad and grief-stricken, but I think they're troubled. People are problem solvers. They have problems to solve and they've got things to deal with. Issues. And if they're not, then they're probably not living on this planet that I'm living on. So I always try to address those things in the characters I play."

Interviewed by Gary Masters for Exclusive Magazine

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