Clayton Hoff (Actor, 1BR)
The Horror Revolution: First off, what’s your favorite horror movie? What movie scared you the most?
Clayton Hoff: Well, Poltergeist ruined me. I remember seeing this movie as a kid and being absolutely terrified. The scene in the bathroom with the braces wrapping around Dominique Dunne haunted my dreams. Since then my relationship with watching horror films has been a scarce one. But they are really fun to act!
THR: 1BR was fantastic and a movie that deserves a lot more attention. What drew your attention to the project?
CH: Alok and I knew each other as we both frequented the same bar, Bigfoot West. I am never on Facebook but I had recently gotten married and posted some photos which Alok saw and then thought of me for the part. So he reached out with an audition request on Friday to be due on Sunday. And I honestly didn’t think I had the time as I was working my serving job Friday and Saturday night while doing an acting intensive that weekend during the day, PLUS I was leaving for New Orleans that Monday to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday. So, my wife and I shot the audition tape Sunday morning at 2:30am and sent it off into the ether. During my flight Monday I had the opportunity to read the script and really fell in love with the character and his heroism. That night, I was on Frenchman Street listening to this 20 piece marching style band and I got the call.
THR: Lester is one of the more intriguing characters in the film, a complex character with way more personality than meets the eye. What inspired you in your performance?
CH: Something that inspired me was the idea that 2 + 2 = 5 from the novel “1984.” Lester is an intelligent person. He knew all along that 2 + 2 = 4, but in order to survive he had to bury that down and believe that it equaled 5. And after years of indoctrination 5 was the answer at the forefront. Then what was fun to play were those few moments in the script when he is reminded that 2 + 2 = 4. In those moments you get to see his vulnerability and his heroism.
THR: How much attention do you pay to your character’s motivations when performing a role, and how much of your performance comes down to just doing the best with what you’re given? Do you consider the character’s background in determining how you’ll play the role?
CH: I mean these are all important aspects in crafting a character, and are things that I build. But for me, the embodiment of the character is the essential part. The first time I put on Lester’s glasses with one eye blacked out something physical happened to me in that role. It immediately triggered the ear injury he had at the hand of his captors. These two injuries gave birth to this physicality of a man who has to lead with his good eye and good ear in order to absorb what is going on around him. It also birthed this timidity in his physical being like a dog that is abused at the hand of its master.
THR: Lester is clearly a broken man, one who has not only lost the love of his life but is also living in the commune out of fear and necessity rather than preference. Do you think it was always his intention to help Sarah, or did he decide just in the final scene?
CH: Lester always wanted to help Sara. He wanted to help her assimilate easily into the group so that she wouldn’t have to go through what he did. He wanted to help her learn her place. He always had empathy for her situation. He tries to give her the required reading on her first day. He sees her thinking about stabbing Janice and he nods to her to not. He gives her her sewing machine when they are both forced into marriage. He has that conversation in the bedroom with her trying to get her to accept her disposition so that she will not have to endure what he has. But I don’t think that he had always planned to help her escape. It was something that he had thought of in quick fleeting moments but never fully flushed out. His heroism happened in that moment that he was reminded of his goodness and his will to escape that he ultimately made the decision he did.
THR: Was it difficult to play a character who is portrayed as such a creepy guy but is actually the most decent human out of all of the “villains?” How different is your actual personality from that of Lester?
CH: Playing villains and creeps are roles right in my wheelhouse. My mom, giving me a compliment, would always say, “Baby. I think you’d play a really good psycho.” Thanks, Mom? I’m actually a fun, kind, open, and outgoing person. But it is my job to find the parts of myself that are in the script. Sometimes I like to be the wallflower, watching the party and everyone in it move about, and not have to interact but just be. I was able to find that sad, lonely little boy inside myself that lives within Lester, that lives within many people in this world. I, like Lester, have grit and perseverance. We both are survivors.
THR: Is there a genre of film that you prefer to work within? Why?
CH: I like working in drama. Especially characters that are poverty/working class. This is a majority voice in the world that I feel I have something unique and special to bring.
THR: What inspires you as an actor? Was there any film in particular that made you know that’s what you wanted to be?
CH: The discovery process. Finding parts of myself. Redefining parts of myself. Sharpening parts of myself. Also, working with talented people. Nothing more rewarding than working opposite someone who is open and listening that is playing full out. We had these spirit weeks in school and each grade level had to do a 4 song lip sync performance. My friends and I happened to talk our freshman class into letting one of the songs be Korn’s “Freak on a Leash.” I ended up being lead singer Johnathan Davis and the feeling I got on stage was not like anything else I had experienced in my life. I just put on some Korn right now to finish out the interview.
THR: I saw that you had written and co-directed a short film as well. Did you enjoy that part of the filmmaking process and is it something you’d like to pursue further?
CH: 100% Writing is the ultimate in creative freedom. I find it is also a discipline that costs me a lot personally. But in that cost is the biggest reward. I currently have a few scripts I am working on and several that are a few edits from being complete.
THR: What is coming next for you? Is there anything you’re excited to talk about?
CH: I currently have a film that is going through a festival run right now called Hopeless Romantic. It’s a gritty short shot on 16mm written and directed by the emerging talent Doug Jordan AKA TMG Fresh. It has an amazing cast and production team, and I cannot be any happier with how it turned out.
THR: Finally, would you rather be invisible or have the ability to fly?
CH: Hands down to fly. I have reoccurring dreams of being able to fly and the freedom and joy I feel is unrivaled.