Acting Workshop

June 1, 2019

Basil Hoffman will conduct his sixth weekend acting workshop, Acting and How to Be Good at It, in Albuquerque, New Mexico under auspices of Sol Acting Academy. The workshop dates are June 1st and June 2nd, 2019, and will be preceded by a Special Night with Basil Hoffman, a Q and A event that will include a charity auction of film industry memorabilia from Basil Hoffman\'s personal collection.

THE WRAP AFM November 2016

November 21, 2016

\"How Basil Hoffman Inspired Us At AFM\"
Richard Stellar article in THE WRAP written at the American Film Market 2016.


March 17, 2016

Basil Hoffman will play Christopher George in THE LAST WORD, directed by Mark Pellington and starring Academy Award winner Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried and Anne Heche. THE LAST WORD will be released in the spring of 2017.


March 30, 2015

Basil Hoffman has been cast in the role of Stu Schwartz in HAIL, CAESAR!, directed by Academy Award winning directors Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. HAIL, CAESAR! is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2016. Joel and Ethan Coen won the directing Oscar for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007).


November 9, 2014

RIO, I LOVE YOU has been screened twice at the American Film Market 2014.
Basil Hoffman stars with Emily Mortimer in the \"La Fortuna\" segment of RIO, I LOVE YOU. The segment was written and directed by Academy Award winning director Paolo Sorrentino (THE GREAT BEAUTY, Best Foreign Language Film, 2014 Academy Awards).


September 11, 2014

The anthology feature, RIO,I LOVE YOU (RIO EU TE AMO) has had its world premiere in Rio de Janeiro. Four trailers - the official Brazilian trailer, two international trailers and the British trailer, are now available online (Google, etc.). Basil Hoffman, who stars with Emily Mortimer in the \"La Fortuna\" segment, is one of only three American actors in RIO, I LOVE YOU. John Turturro and Harvey Keitel are the other two. John Turturro is also the only American writer-director represented.


March 3, 2014

RIO, I LOVE YOU (RIO EU TE AMO) has wrapped principal photography in Rio de Janeiro. Paolo Sorrentino, who wrote and directed the \"La Fortuna\" segment of RIO, I LOVE YOU, also wrote and directed the most acclaimed picture of 2013, THE GREAT BEAUTY, which won the European Film Award for Best Film of 2013, the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 2013 and the British Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 2013. Last night THE GREAT BEAUTY won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of 2013.
Basil Hoffman stars with Emily Mortimer in the two-character \"La Fortuna\" segment of RIO, I LOVE YOU.


October 12, 2013

RIO, I LOVE YOU (RIO EU TE AMO), a feature film, has begun principal photography in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The picture is the third installment in a series of features that began with PARIS, JE T\'AIME in 2006, followed by NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU in 2009. RIO, EU TE AMO, produced by Emmanuel Benbihy (who also produced the Paris and New York installments in this series of anthology features), is a film with ten different scripts, written and directed by ten different international filmmakers, with ten different international casts. (Each short film also has transition sequences written by Fellipe Barbosa and directed by Vicente Amorim, so that each separate cast works on an additional script by an additional writer directed by an additional director.)
Basil Hoffman stars with Emily Mortimer in RIO, EU TE AMO in the two-character \"La Fortuna\" segment written and directed by the Italian filmmaker, Paolo Sorrentino. Sorrentino\'s most recently released film, THE GREAT BEAUTY, won the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Picture.


September 12, 2013

THROWDOWN, a dramatic feature film, with Mischa Barton and Timothy Woodward Jr., directed by Timothy Woodward Jr. with a script by Wes Miller, has completed principal photography.
Basil Hoffman stars as Judge Eller in THROWDOWN.


May 22, 2013

On May 22nd, 3 GEEZERS (directed by Michelle Schumacher), with J.K. Simmons, Lou Beatty Jr., Tim Allen, Scott Caan, and Kevin Pollak will get its initial theatrical release in Columbus OH, NYC, Sedona, New Orleans, Beverly Hills, Little Rock, Kansas City MO, San Diego, Ft. Wayne, Tucson, Juneau, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Santa Fe, and Portland OR.
Basil Hoffman stars as Victor in 3 GEEZERS.


May 16, 2013

COURAGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE, a miniseries written and directed by James Riley, will premiere May 27th (Memorial Day) on the Inspiration Channel (INSP).
Basil Hoffman stars as Simeon Trapp in COURAGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE.


February 27, 2012

THE ARTIST won five Oscars at the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony.
Best Costumes
Best Musical Score
Best Actor
Best Director
Best Picture
Basil Hoffman appears as The Auctioneer in THE ARTIST.


February 21, 2012

Currently starring as Simeon Trapp in the television series COURAGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE, written and directed by James Patrick Riley for Colony Bay Productions.


May 6, 2011

THE ARTIST, directed by Michel Hazanavicius and starring Jean Dujardin, John Goodman and James Cromwell, has been selected to be screened in competition in the Cannes Film Festival, 2011. Basil Hoffman appears as The Auctioneer in THE ARTIST.


January 11, 2011

Producers Randle Schumacher and Eric Radzan have signed Basil Hoffman to star in GEEZERS!, to be directed by Michelle Schumacher, and also starring J.K. Simmons, Tim Allen and Kyra Sedgewick.


December 3, 2010

Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL, starring Basil Hoffman as Ebenezer Scrooge, has opened for a three week run at The Packing Shed Theatre in Oak Glen, California.


November 1, 2010

Basil Hoffman will appear as The Auctioneer in THE ARTIST (scheduled release 2012), directed by Michel Hazanavicius. The film, starring Jean Dujardin, John Goodman and James Cromwell, completed principal photography on November 1, 2010.


September 27, 2010

Basil Hoffman has signed to play Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL at The Packing Shed Theatre in Oak Glen, California. Jim Reilly produces and Eric Draizin will direct.


August 25, 2010

Basil Hoffman was a special guest at the Albuquerque Film Festival, August 25-29, 2010. The 2010 film FAR GONE, in which he stars, was screened twice at the festival.


May 13, 2010

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, starring Basil Hoffman, has been selected to screen in the Cannes Festival, 2010, May 12-23. The film, directed by Lee Chambers, was shot in Thunder Bay, Ontario in the fall of 2009.


September 30, 2009

Basil Hoffman stars in WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS and THE INTERROGATION, two short films directed by Lee Chambers. Principal photography completed September, 2009.


September 25, 2009

Basil Hoffman conducted an acting workshop at the Paramount Theatre in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, under the auspices of the Film Department of Confederation College.


March 4, 2009

Basil Hoffman received the 2009 Beverly Hills Short Film Festival Jury Award for Best Actor* in OLD DOGS, written by Tom Fahn and Jonathan Fahn and directed by Jonathan Fahn.


January 24, 2009

The producers of Warner Brothers' 2009 feature, THE BOX, have placed the following item in the Trivia section of their film's entry on the Internet Movie Data Base (

"Veteran character actor, Basil Hoffman, also appeared in the original version of this story when it aired as 'Button, Button' on the new Twilight Zone in 1986."

BACK STAGE article

December 12, 2008


The Actor and the Written Word
by Basil Hoffman

The actor's first contact with a play, film, or TV show is with the script. His or her approach to that script will determine success or failure in the project, independent of any other factor. So what are the rules, if any, to guide the actor's approach to the written word?

To begin with, the script is the only real authority for any dramatic (serious or comic) production. The script is the source of the story and characters and the basis for the project's very existence. For that reason, the actor's first responsibility is to respect the writer's words — all of them. Neil Simon is known to have interrupted a rehearsal to shout to an actor on stage, "The word is a, not the." When I was working on the film Lucky Lady for the great director Stanley Donen, I was in a scene that included all three stars — Gene Hackman, Liza Minnelli, and Burt Reynolds. When one of the other actors in the scene repeated a word in one of his lines, apparently to give it some added emphasis, Donen stopped the take and asked the actor, "How many times does that word appear in the line?" The actor replied, "Once." The director's response was short and quite to the point: "Then let's just hear it once. Otherwise we'll have a very long scene and a very boring movie."

Avoiding embarrassment on the set is not the only reason to respect a writer's words. The primary reason is that the script provides the only real source material for an actor to discover, understand, and ultimately demonstrate the character envisioned by the writer. Whether the material is a play, screenplay, or teleplay, that script may be the result of many weeks, months, or years of writing, editing, and rewriting, sometimes with several writers collaborating and/or in collaboration with a director or even a producer. This is why an actor will be well-served not to assume the production team will automatically be thrilled to hear the actor's "improvements," especially if they alter or obscure some aspect of the character intended by the writer. It's also very important for actors to remember this when participating in the reading of a new script. The purpose of a reading is for the writer to hear the words as written, to see if they work. Changing words doesn't help.

Here are two fundamental truths actors need to accept about every script they're given, whether they're auditioning or performing. First, they should assume it's the best script ever written. Don't find weaknesses in the material, because every perceived defect creates an obstacle to giving a good performance. (Typographical errors, omissions, and inconsistencies invariably creep into the drafts of even the most carefully crafted scripts. It's the actor's responsibility to call those to the immediate attention of the production department.) Second, they should assume the script was written for them. Accepting these premises gives actors absolute ownership over their roles.

To Tell the Truth
In life, when we speak, we choose words to express our thoughts and feelings. Actors, however, too frequently use words in ways that sound as if they're merely delivering information. Without communicating the meaning — the thoughts and feelings that the choice of those words would have naturally conveyed — actors too often engage in what I call double talk: speech that seems truthful but conveys little or no truthfulness at all.

Here's an example of what I mean. The great character actor Hume Cronyn used to tell a story about studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York with the legendary teacher Charles Jehlinger. In one scene, young Cronyn couldn't get past the phrase "steel ships" without Jehlinger shouting "wooden ships." After several such interruptions, the exasperated Cronyn grabbed a script and confronted his teacher. "It says 'steel ships,'" he protested. Jehlinger's reply: "Yes, but your ships are wooden ships."

In addition to the subject and object of every sentence, there are some categories of words that demand special attention from actors because the speaker — that is, the character — has a particular intent for those words. Those categories include absolutes (tallest, frozen); extremes (obese, quickly); unusual conditions (bankruptcy, priceless); qualities (beautiful, yellow); quantities (ninety, gallon); horror (zombie, blood-spattered); feelings (lonely, joyous); and verbs that express qualities of thought, feeling, or behavior (frowned, whispered). The intent in the foregoing categories includes thoughts, of course, as well as feelings. Actors should always think the thought and feel the feeling before speaking those words, for the way an actor will say them will indeed convey the actor's thoughts and feelings about them. Actors who fail to do this become reporters. Actors often mistake reporting for acting. Audiences never do.

Let's explore this concept further. As important as memorization is for an actor, the actor's ability to not "know" his or her words in advance is of paramount importance for his or her character. In other words, actors cannot allow themselves to speak the words before their character has decided what to say; the character must be allowed to process the information that causes speaking (or any other behaviors). While a character may speak effortlessly and quickly — as we do in life — such speech must come out of a motivated selection process, not a storage bank in the actor's head.

Besides meaning and feeling in the words we choose, we also express ourselves in life by the way we phrase a sentence or a group of sentences together. Clearly, spoken language is not the same thing as written language, yet scripts are a literary form, with punctuation in all the grammatically correct places. Not so when we speak. Instead, we speak in fits and starts, pausing in the middle of sentences (this is phrasing) and running sentences together (this is grouping). Actors are frequently misled by a writer's punctuation, and when obedience to proper punctuation begins to sound like reading, the result is unfortunate. Actors should let their characters' speech patterns be governed by the essence and circumstances of character. The results will be surprising to the actor and, equally important, may startle the audience.

A common problem for actors is the mistaken notion that speaking lines in a "naturalistic" way will seem truthful. It may seem truthful, but it will be merely stylized speech, much the same as phony "classical" speech used to be a popular approach to Shakespeare's plays and similar works. When Marlon Brando died, in contrasting his work to a different kind of acting, one of his obituary writers observed, "Even with naturalistic film actors…audiences knew they were watching rehearsed make-believe." In life, people do not behave naturalistically. They behave and speak in real circumstances, moment by moment, free of stylistic contrivance.

The celebrated television writer William Blinn described the writer's task this way: "Just tell the truth in an interesting way." To the actor, then, I say this: Just tell the truth. That will be interesting enough.

Basil Hoffman is an actor and acting coach. With the author's permission, this article contains some copyrighted material from the author's textbook Acting and How to Be Good at It (second edition), with a foreword by Sydney Pollack. More information can be found at


September 26, 2008

The United States State Department has designated Basil Hoffman as Cultural Envoy to Lebanon to teach acting and directing in Beirut at the University of Balamand's Academie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (ALBA), the Lebanese University (LU), Notre Dame University (NDU), and St. Joseph University's Institut D'Etudes Sceniques Audiovisuelles et Cinematographiques (IESAV) from September 27 through October 28, 2008.


August 29, 2008

As reported on the Web site of the Duke City (New Mexico) Shootout, Basil Hoffman will star in its 2008 Film Project:

"The famed character actor will make his Duke City Shootout debut this year as the lead in the drama THE BAKERS ROAD KILLINGS written and directed by Jarvis Rooker and produced by Jerry Angelo."

[ The complete article is available in LINKS. ]


June 4, 2008


Basil Hoffman says one line aloud in the entire movie, and in a script loaded with better throw-away lines than most comedies can muster for their bombshells, the moment is one of the best.

Betsy Marsh
Cincinnati Enquirer


There are fine performances by Basil Hoffman as George the geologist who can think only in terms of oil, and by George Grizzard as his steely-eyed boss.

Richard Freedman
Star Ledger (Newark, New Jersey)


The writer-director Raymond Poole (the incomparable character actor Basil Hoffman), belongs to that peculiar Hollywood breed of hacks with thin skins. Key to the show's success is Hoffman, whose unforgettably deadpan portrayal suggests a Walking Burbank. The actor nurtures a terrific comic presence marked by impeccable timing. But he mines the character's flinty pathos as well, especially in a sharply written closing speech about betrayal.

Scott Collins
Los Angeles Times


May 29, 2008

Hugh Hewitt's Syndicated Talk Radio Show

Hugh interviews Basil Hoffman on his own career and on his reminiscences about his professional relationship with the great Sydney Pollack.

[ This two-part interview is available on LINKS. Important note: Hugh Hewitt interviews Basil Hoffman twice on this show, before and during the James Lileks segment. ]

Back Stage (New York and Los Angeles)

April 30, 2008

Jean Schiffman, in her article, "The Heat is On - A Look at Cold Reading Tales and Tactics," writes:

As Basil Hoffman writes in Cold Reading and How to be Good at It, "A cold reading is not a 'cold' reading. No actor in a professional situation is ever asked to read from material that he has not prepared. And you must never do it...Even when you have only a few minutes to prepare, you must find the real person in the role." If you're asked to read an additional scene, Hoffman recommends saying, "I'll be happy to. How much time do I have?" He says actors are so overcome in the moment that they don't think in terms of their own best interests.

Book Review

September 6, 2007

Back Stage West (Los Angeles)
September 6-12, 2007

Back Stage East (New York)
September 13-19, 2007

ACTING AND HOW TO BE GOOD AT IT with a Foreword by Sydney Pollack

In past reviews, I've repeatedly expressed my view that it's next to impossible to teach acting -- or any other craft -- through the pages of a book. At their worst, acting how-to books can confuse and over-generalize. At their best, they can introduce ideas, provide insight, or give fresh perspective to well-worn concepts. Basil Hoffman's new book does all three.

Although it's written in the form of a question-and-answer session covering key topics, such as training and character, the book goes beyond the typical and lightweight suggestions that pepper slighter texts, digging deep into familiar concepts. While at times Hoffman's points seem to thread the needle's eye (he delves into his definition of acting as "disciplined truthful behavior in contrived situations" as opposed to the well-accepted "behaving truthfully in imaginary circumstances" and stresses the importance of playing "purpose" rather than "objective"), it's obvious he knows his stuff. This leads to my only real criticism: At times it seems as if Hoffman is so knowledgeable about the bigger acting picture that he skims crucial topics, spending his energy instead on the finer points. For example, the idea of conflict is covered in two paragraphs, while tips on "vocality" and phrasing dialogue are spread across 11 pages. Still, this attention to detail is almost entirely refreshing.

And it's in those details that the precise, highly literate Hoffman creates a book that reads like an attention-grabbing dissertation on a fascinating subject. He treats acting with a seriousness and respect it isn't often afforded. Like a university lecture, the book requires thought and attention to digest. Those who don't enjoy thinking should look elsewhere.

Hoffman elucidates many of his ideas with examples from his own professional experience, and it's clear almost immediately that he has earned the right, through hard practice, to preach. His often high profile successes -- and mistakes -- make for informative, engaging reading. While reading a book might not make you a better actor, reading this book will make you a more informed one.

Reviewed by Jackie Apodaca

Powered By NowCasting