He’s built up a quietly impressive reputation as an actor in supporting roles such as Howard Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Matt Damon’s shadowy pursuer in THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU. He is best known as laconic ad boss Roger Sterling in Mad Men – now John Slattery has turned director for GOD’S POCKET, soon to be released in the UK and sadly marking the last screen performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Assembling an impressive additional cast of John Turturro, Slattery’s Sterling-Cooper collaborator Christina Hendricks and Richard Jenkins (BURN AFTER READING), the black comedy is an adaptation of Pete Dexter’s 1983 novel and concerns Mickey Scarpato, played by Hoffman, who is caught up in a web of lies after his mentally unbalanced stepson dies. Premiering earlier in the year at Sundance, Slattery’s debut received mixed reviews of the sort that are customary for so-called “actors’ movies”, where the workers supposedly rally against the system and seize the means of production for themselves.
Slattery relates how Hoffman came to be involved, an approach that was far from the typical number crunching between agents:
We lived near each other for years. I knew I wanted him to be in it and I bumped into him on the street and said, “I don’t want to make this movie without you.” I’m so glad I said that because the fact that he chose to do this movie over the many others that he could have chosen… it’s a great compliment and a stroke of luck and grace for me. But yes, the circumstances weren’t what I thought they would be.
It seems the character of Roger Sterling isn’t too far from Slattery’s own, as his snappy response to a question about how to flatter actors as a director proves:
There aren’t really tricks. You just stay away from shit like you just said. You don’t say “best angles,” because actors will know that’s bullshit immediately. They won’t ever trust you again.
Following the leading man’s death, Ken Stott recalled working with Hoffman on CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (2007), emphasizing his commitment to the craft and his irritation over what he saw as the invasive and shallow culture of celebrity to the acting profession. That his last role saw him in good company with respected fellow performers is testament enough to one of the 21st century’s most feted actors’ actors.
GOD’S POCKET is set to be released in the UK later this year, click here to see the first images we covered earlier this year.