Daphne Rubin-Vega on ‘Jack Goes Boating’, ‘Rent’ and the Difference Between Acting in Film and Theater

Daphne-Rubin Vega
Daphne Rubin-Vega
stars in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s new film, Jack Goes Boating. The former Rent star talked with Speakeasy about the movie, being directed by her co-star (Hoffman) and the difference between film and stage acting.

The Wall Street Journal: As Philip Seymour Hoffman’s directorial film debut, what like working with him?

Phil is very generous director – as an actor he knows what he needs, what gives him fuel, and he did his utmost to give that to us actors, so I think he took from his most inspired and best experiences with directors that he’s worked with. The truth is he has directed before–he just hasn’t directed cinema–but he knows how to speak to actors and how to galvanize an actor and get that process going.

As a director, did he have his shots all mapped out or did he let you improvise?

I admire his intelligence and the way his brain works. I would say he’s a perfectionist but that is by no means of saying every take has to be perfect. In order to celebrate and explore and do the best we can, he puts it plainly — being a fool is part and parcel, and being allowed to make mistakes and explore things at the risk of falling flat is important. What we do is an imperfect thing, we imitate reality and he allows us to be able to do that safely.

How is film acting different than stage acting for you?

The easiest way to describe it is the ride. The ride in theater is immediate, it’s an interactive spectator sport and you start at the beginning and you tell this story and you end at the end. It’s a very adrenaline pumping experience, more like getting shot out of a cannon. Film acting is taking small bites and so because of those bits. They are like moments within moments and can be expanded more. It’s a different way of manipulating time I think.

After Rent closed, it seems like you were the sole one that got left behind. How have you bounced back?

I never perceived it as being left behind. You make choices, I didn’t go to L.A. – I made different choices and I think that “Jack” is the lucky fruition of choices that I’ve made. I think in the world of success there’s a tension – the success of “Rent” puts a focus on you. It’s nice to be involved in something, make another homemade New York story, it feels good.

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