If you saw Hostel, you’ll recognise Rick Hoffman when you see him. He’s the guy who stole the show with his turn as the maniacal American businessman in the hostel near the end – he’s an energetic mass of nervousness, irritability, smarminess, and barely contained rage. He’s the kind of character that burns himself off the screen and into your brain, despite only getting around five minutes of screen time.
Hoffman turns up a lot in the same kinds of roles, to the point where you’d suspect that’s all there is to him. He pops up in Uwe Boll’s Postal, for example, as the lunatic boss of a company Zack Ward’s Postal Dude wants, for some reason, to work for. The job interview scene is one of the scariest things ever committed to film; if I walked into a job interview and was faced with Rick Hoffman, I think I’d turn around and walk straight back out again. He’s a terrifying man. Actually, he might as well be playing the same character in Postal as he is in Hostel – and, indeed, in Cellular, where he pops up as the annoying lawyer whose phone line gets crossed with the the Human Torch’s at a crucial moment. In all three movies, too, his unpleasant character gets his comeuppance: he gets killed in Hostel by the main character; he gets killed in Postal by flaming debris; and in Cellular, the Torch steals his car and mobile phone… and then adds insult to injury by stealing his car again. He seems to excel at playing characters that audiences love to hate.
But. And that’s a big but. That’s not the only string to his bow, as his turn in WWE movie The Condemned showed. Ostensibly a vehicle for wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Condemned actually had a serious point to make about politics, entertainment and the media, and it cast Hoffman, unusually, as a sensitive, sympathetic character. It’s probably more powerful if you’re used to Hoffman’s usual asshole characters, but it was unsettling to see him play against type, and also really cool.
Hoffman’s IMDB profile suggests that he’s working in television at the moment, and doesn’t have any other feature films lined up, which is a shame. It almost seems worth digging out The Day After Tomorrow just to catch his turn as “NY Businessman on Bus”. That’s how awesome Rick Hoffman is; I’d almost consider watching that turgid mess again just to spot him in, probably, one scene, as a character who didn’t even merit a real name.