Jake Hoffman And Schuyler Fisk On Acting With Their Famous Parents In Sam & Kate - Exclusive Interview

Casting the right actor for a role is important for every movie, but it was extra special for the independent film "Sam & Kate." With the concept of family dynamics at the forefront of the story, it only made sense to cast actors who actually were related in real life: Jake Hoffman and his father, Dustin Hoffman, paired up for the father-son roles, and Schuyler Fisk and her mother, Sissy Spacek, portray the film's mother-daughter duo. 

The film follows a man named Sam (Jake Hoffman), who has moved back to his hometown to care for his aging father (Dustin Hoffman). In no time, he finds himself falling for a local woman named Kate (Schuyler Fisk), who, to his dismay, has no intentions of ever getting back in the dating game. However, after Kate's mother (Sissy Spacek) begins falling for Sam's father, Kate also begins to feel sparks for Sam, forcing her to acknowledge her heartbreaking past in an attempt to let new love into her life.

The List sat down for an exclusive interview with stars Jake Hoffman and Schuyler Fisk, who opened up about what it was like working with their Oscar-winning parents, described the scene from "Sam & Kate" that was the most "stressful" to film, and even looked back at the advice their famous families gave to them when they first decided to pursue their own acting careers.

The stars share what it's like working with their parents

"Sam & Kate" must have been such a memorable experience to work on with your parents. From an acting perspective, do you feel like it was easier or more challenging to work with someone who is so close to you?

Schuyler Fisk: For me, from an acting perspective, it made it easier because working with such amazing actors and having these scenes with my mom was ... She's so in it. She's so pro. It felt like we were there [and] we were those characters.

Also, I've been thinking [about how] we were talking about the pandemic. This movie was pushed for a while because of that, so it gave us more time in pre-production to all connect with each other and talk about these characters inside and out and get prepared, which was good because we had such a short shoot.

Jake Hoffman: A lot of the things that made it daunting on a human level made it easier as an actor. But it was overall one of the most special experiences I've ever had.

Did either of you get the freedom to improvise any moments with your parents?

Hoffman: All throughout. Darren [Le Gallo, the film's writer and director] was really cool that way. He gave us a lot of room to play — and with each other, too. Schuyler's an old friend of mine, and I had a lot of fun trying to make her laugh. That was one of my favorite things about making the movie — every time I got to hear Schuyler laugh.

Their parents gave them advice when they entered show business

Do either of you remember the first piece of guidance or advice that your parents gave you when you decided that you wanted to be an actor too?

Fisk: Setting an example has been the best thing both my parents have done. They choose things for the right reasons. They're so dedicated to the art of it all. They care. They have [an] incredible work ethic, and they want to get it right. They don't want to phone it in. Definitely, I look up to them in that way and want to be like them in the world.

On an acting level, my mom has always mentioned, "Don't worry about acting. Just feel it, think it, and they'll see it." I try and remember that.

Hoffman: It's funny — when you're asking, "When did I know I want to be an actor?" I still don't know if I want to be an actor, to be honest with you. [Laughs] It's a difficult profession, and Dad had warned me of such things, and then I found out for myself that he wasn't kidding.

But occasionally, you have the opportunity to do work that you're really proud of. I don't take those opportunities for granted, and this was one of them. I'm really grateful for having forever got to be part of this and hope everyone enjoys it as much as we like[d] making it.

How the film affected their perspectives of their famous parents

Was there anything new that you learned from your parents or about your parents from filming "Sam & Kate"?

Fisk: I don't know. I'm not really sure. ... It was bonding. I'll just say it felt like a big bonding experience, not just for me and my mom, but I felt that deeply with Jake and Dustin, too. We were all really invested in telling the truth, and I felt like we were all in it together. It was a beautiful collaboration and a real gift to work with such amazing actors on a project that's so special.

Hoffman: It was more reinforcing things. We've known each other for some time now. He has a real passion for the work itself. And it's rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. [If] you feel like you're getting better, that doesn't mean it's time to stop. You keep working on it more. I was raised on that.

Participating in the experience with him in this way is something I never got to do [before], and I loved it. It definitely reinforced those [things], and it was impressive to watch.

Their favorite memories from working on the movie

From the entire process of filming this movie, is there a specific moment that sticks out to either of you that will always be a special memory?

Fisk: There's so many special memories [from] making this movie.

Hoffman: Having it play in Austin, [Texas, in October during the Austin Film Festival] at the Paramount Theater — and that's a big theater, so it's over 1,000 people — and having the audience react so well to it, laughing and getting emotional, and feeling the room go on that ride, and feeling like they connected with it, that was really special.

I don't know if that's [answering] your question or if I'm just giving myself a very public pat on the back right now. All right, back to you, Schuyler. [Laughs]

Fisk: God, there were so many great moments, and I cherished so many of them and had lovely memories. But some of the things that stick out to me weren't actually when we were filming. It was weekends when Jake and I would get together and go over scenes to make sure we were prepared because we knew we wouldn't have time to figure it out on the day. [Laughs]

And going over scenes with my mom after work or over the weekends or before we started filming, taking the time to get to know these characters and who they are, what they would do, what they would say, and what they would feel. I felt like we got to a place with all of them that felt like they were deeply rooted in these real lives, these real, flawed, layered people going through [things].

This was one of the most 'stressful' scenes to film

Hoffman: The first scene that we shot with the four of us happened to be a scene where the four of us are in a car together. That was probably the most challenging of the shoot. Some things had gone wrong throughout the day, as happens on indie movies, and it made it more challenging [because there was] less time to shoot. Then the hope is that it feels right, and when it does, you [go], "phew," and when it doesn't, you hope you have more time. 

In this case, it wasn't feeling right and we didn't have more time, so it was one of the more stressful moments on the movie. We took a little actor timeout, and everyone's being respectful but also nervously pointing to their watches, and fair enough. And we had to talk out how we can make the scene work and feel right.

Ironically, I'm answering [a question about] the best memory with what was one of the most difficult. But overcoming that, where we found our footing as a group together, the moment of being able to overcome that together, was probably my favorite moment of shooting it.

Fisk: Yeah, and it was so early on, and it was the first scene we all did together, [so] I feel like after we got through that, we're like, "We can get through anything!" It felt like we had each other's backs. It was nice.

"Sam & Kate" hits theaters on Friday, November 11.

This interview has been edited for clarity.