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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 15:39 GMT
Hoffman creeps onto London stage
The cast and director of The Talented Mr Ripley
Hoffman (right): Featured in The Talented Mr Ripley
Hollywood actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has bucked the trend by visiting London's West End stage as director rather than star.

Hoffman, described as the "best character actor of his generation", has featured in films as varied as Boogie Nights, Magnolia and The Talented Mr Ripley.

But on Wednesday night he will be behind the scenes as his play Jesus Hopped the "A" Train begins previews at London's Donmar Warehouse.

Hoffman's inconspicuous visit as a director is unusual in that the Donmar - along with other London theatres - has become known as the venue of big star performers.

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Hoffman: Played a nurse in Magnolia

Nicole Kidman famously appeared there in the Blue Room and in May, Gwyneth Paltrow will tread its boards.

For now, Hoffman's play occupies the space. Jesus Hopped on the "A" Train is a prison drama by Stephen Aldy Guirgis.

John Ortiz takes the main role and also led the play when Hoffman directed it off Broadway to critical acclaim about 18 months ago.

The play is part of the Donmar's American Imports 2002 season and won a Fringe First at Edinburgh last year.

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Hoffman's previous experience at the production helm includes directing Oscar-winner Anna Paquin's stage debut in the Southern-gothic drama, The Glory of Living.

And before that he directed an earlier Guirgis play, In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings, in 1999.

Nicole Kidman
Kidman: Caused a sensation in The Blue Room

Hoffman is also co-artistic director of the LAByrinth Theatre Company, set up in 1992 to give work to the Latino acting community in New York.

The letters "LAB" stand for Latino Acting Base and the two Giurgis plays are a product of its work.

Hoffman's acting career began on the stage first in regional and off-Broadway productions until his first major Hollywood break in 1992 in Scent of a Woman.

Since then he has been pretty much permanently employed. In the last year alone, he has become involved in seven movies, including Voltage from Oscar-nominated director Robert Altman.

See also:

18 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Critics crown Almost Famous
31 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Director Crowe's Famous venture
17 Mar 00 | Oscars 2000
A Law unto himself
31 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Philip Seymour Hoffman: Filmography
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