Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman of the film Jack Goes Boating poses for a portrait at the Gibson Guitar Lounge during Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Monday, January 24, 2010.  (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri)
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a political campaigner in The Ides of March. Carlo Allegri / AP Photo

Looking forward to The Ides of March with Philip Seymour Hoffman



It's easy to forget, given the who's who list of male stars appearing in The Ides of March – George Clooney, Ryan Gosling and Paul Giamatti – that it's only Philip Seymour Hoffman who has taken the biggest acting prize in the business: the best actor Oscar for Capote.

Clooney has been nominated for the top prize but his only win came in the supporting actor category for Syriana, and it so happens that both Hoffman and Clooney won their respective Academy Awards in 2006.

Hoffman is the consummate character actor. He inhabits characters to such an extent that it’s difficult to typecast him. The Clooney-directed The Ides of March is set around the Democratic presidential primaries and Hoffman plays Paul Zara, a long-in-the-tooth political campaigner who is overseeing a campaign to get Clooney’s governor Mike Morris elected.

When Zara is kept in the dark about an incident, it enables an idealistic young pretender, played by Gosling, to challenge his authority. Hoffman brings sympathy to the “spin doctor” character – no mean feat in a political climate where the people behind the politicians are often treated with more contempt by the media than the politicians themselves.

With a presidential election coming up for real next year, the 44-year-old actor says of politics: “It’s good to be informed. The older I get, the desire I have to know more and feel a part of it grows and grows.”

Zara is the type of role that the New York-based actor loves to sink his teeth into. “A job like this is the best of both worlds because it’s a very dramatic, character-driven thing, but with an underlying political element. On set we talked about a lot of things, but we didn’t talk about politics.”

Hoffman admits that this even extended to one pivotal scene where the campaign is in crisis and the spin doctor and politician have to meet to discuss the potentially career-ending fallout. The scene takes place in a limousine but Clooney wisely opts to keep the camera outside the car, knowing that anything that he shot would not be as wild as the conversation taking place in the audience’s imagination.

“It’s one of the funniest things that we didn’t discuss anything. George was sick that day,” explains Hoffman, “so I said to him I’m just going to the car. Put the cigarette on the top of the car and just let the camera shoot the ash go down. We knew how important the scene was and George talked about the scene before, but in the car we were just smoking and while the camera was rolling just wondering if the cigarette was going to last.”

The actor is also appearing in the forthcoming Moneyball, a true story of how the Oakland Athletic baseball team turned the form book upside down in 2002 when they started to use statistics rather than the hunches of scouts to employ players. Suddenly, a team with a small budget was able to compete with the New York Yankees and turned the general manager Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, into one of the most highly rated managers in baseball. Moneyball will be screened in the Fairmont’s outdoor 1,200-capacity theatre on October 29.

Hoffman is again playing a character with old school principles. But whereas in The Ides of March that seems almost noble, in Moneyball it's foolhardy. He has a misplaced faith in the old way and, as the coach of the team, refuses to implement the tactics put forward by Beane.

Yet what Hoffman says attracted him to the project is not the baseball story but the human factor: “I found it inspiring that there is a guy who all of a sudden looks back on his life and becomes obsessed with what came before. You feel like he’s going to Groundhog Day himself until that day is gone and he can enjoy a baseball game and his life again. What’s so hard for the filmmakers is that there is no way you can be clear about that, so Billy Beane can’t just walk into my office and say, ‘Listen, I’m looking back on my life and I need help’. I think whenever we talked about the film, the human side was discussed and I think that is very inspiring.”

It's all a long way from the early part of Hoffman's career when he started out with small scene-stealing cameos in movies such as Boogie Nights and The Big Lebowski. His breakthrough film was Todd Solondz's Happiness where he played his most ugly character, unappreciative of others in his life. After winning an Oscar playing the writer Truman Capote, he played the super villain in Mission: Impossible III.

Hoffman also directed and starred in his first film last year, Jack Goes Boating, where he played a limousine driver struggling to find love in New York. The film is based on a play that Hoffman appeared in after his Oscar success.

Perhaps the only unifying factor in his roles is that he likes to play characters on the margins in work that tries to understand the fabric of America. He says: “I think human nature is surprising. People in general are surprising. They are pretty weird, odd and eccentric. I don’t think there is anybody who doesn’t have those qualities in some way. I try to capture that.”

Emiratisation at work

Emiratisation was introduced in the UAE more than 10 years ago

It aims to boost the number of citizens in the workforce particularly in the private sector.

Growing the number of Emiratis in the workplace will help the UAE reduce dependence on overseas workers

The Cabinet in December last year, approved a national fund for Emirati jobseekers and guaranteed citizens working in the private sector a comparable pension

President Sheikh Khalifa has described Emiratisation as “a true measure for success”.

During the UAE’s 48th National Day, Sheikh Khalifa named education, entrepreneurship, Emiratisation and space travel among cornerstones of national development

More than 80 per cent of Emiratis work in the federal or local government as per 2017 statistics

The Emiratisation programme includes the creation of 20,000 new jobs for UAE citizens

UAE citizens will be given priority in managerial positions in the government sphere

The purpose is to raise the contribution of UAE nationals in the job market and create a diverse workforce of citizens

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Understand What Black Is

The Last Poets

(Studio Rockers)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

What is a Ponzi scheme?

A fraudulent investment operation where the scammer provides fake reports and generates returns for old investors through money paid by new investors, rather than through ligitimate business activities.

The Greatest Royal Rumble card as it stands

The Greatest Royal Rumble card as it stands

50-man Royal Rumble - names entered so far include Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, Kurt Angle, Big Show, Kane, Chris Jericho, The New Day and Elias

Universal Championship Brock Lesnar (champion) v Roman Reigns in a steel cage match

WWE World Heavyweight ChampionshipAJ Styles (champion) v Shinsuke Nakamura

Intercontinental Championship Seth Rollins (champion) v The Miz v Finn Balor v Samoa Joe

United States Championship Jeff Hardy (champion) v Jinder Mahal

SmackDown Tag Team Championship The Bludgeon Brothers (champions) v The Usos

Raw Tag Team Championship (currently vacant) Cesaro and Sheamus v Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt

Casket match The Undertaker v Chris Jericho

Singles match John Cena v Triple H

Cruiserweight Championship Cedric Alexander v tba

The Freedom Artist

By Ben Okri (Head of Zeus)

The specs

Price, base / as tested Dh960,000
Engine 3.9L twin-turbo V8
Transmission Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Power 661hp @8,000rpm
Torque 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined 11.4L / 100k

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Four motivational quotes from Alicia's Dubai talk

“The only thing we need is to know that we have faith. Faith and hope in our own dreams. The belief that, when we keep going we’re going to find our way. That’s all we got.”

“Sometimes we try so hard to keep things inside. We try so hard to pretend it’s not really bothering us. In some ways, that hurts us more. You don’t realise how dishonest you are with yourself sometimes, but I realised that if I spoke it, I could let it go.”

“One good thing is to know you’re not the only one going through it. You’re not the only one trying to find your way, trying to find yourself, trying to find amazing energy, trying to find a light. Show all of yourself. Show every nuance. All of your magic. All of your colours. Be true to that. You can be unafraid.”

“It’s time to stop holding back. It’s time to do it on your terms. It’s time to shine in the most unbelievable way. It’s time to let go of negativity and find your tribe, find those people that lift you up, because everybody else is just in your way.”

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September