Nowhere Man: Stephen Dorff
Fresh from filming Zaytoun—set to premiere this month at the Toronto International Film Festival—actor Stephen Dorff puts his feet up at Milan’s Hotel Principe di Savoia. Photographs by Dylan Don. Directed by Robert Rabensteiner.
“My life is kind of like a rock band,” explains actor Stephen Dorff. “I’m always going to one place, I’m home for a bit, and then—boom—back into the melee of traveling.” At the moment, Dorff has traded his suitcase for Milan’s Hotel Principe di Savoia. Having spent the previous three and a half months in Israel and South Africa on the set of his latest film, Zaytoun—which will premiere as a special presentation at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival—he seems grateful for the creature comforts of this familiar haunt. And with Dorff on the road so much in recent months, the film—about a homeward-bound journey—couldn’t be better timed.
Directed by Israeli director Eran Riklis and produced by London-based Bedlam Productions, the company behind The King’s Speech, Zaytoun tells the story of an Israeli fighter pilot (played by Dorff) whose plane is shot down over Beirut. With the aid of a young Palestinian refugee, together they make their way back home through war-torn Lebanon, and the unlikely pair become close.
Dorff, who was born in Atlanta but raised in Hollywood, started acting at age 12, and by 1992 at just 19-years-old, appeared alongside Morgan Freeman in The Power of One, cementing his rising star status. “I grew up in Hollywood, so it was pretty much being in Hollywood that made me want to be an actor,” he says. “It was all around me, when I was going to school, movie stars’ kids, families or people, and my father was a composer in music…But it was more through going to school in Hollywood and kind of growing up in that city that made me want to do this.”
Nowadays, the definition of home feels quite different for Dorff. “My life right now is almost entirely in hotels,” he says. But the Hotel Principe di Savoia is a place he says he’s loved for a long time. “There are certain hotels you could just stay at for months at a time, you get to know the staff and it becomes like a family—it’s like a family away from home,” says Dorff, who also cites Los Angeles’s Chateau Marmont and Blakes in London as two other hotels he could settle into.
When he is home on the west coast, those rare moments between jet-setting across the world to film, Dorff says that he likes to do quintessentially at-home activities: Record music, write, drive, swim in the ocean, eat at In-N-Out burger, and see his family and friends. “I’ll drink margaritas when I don’t have responsibilities,” he adds, “It’s nice to enjoy the time when you have nothing to do.”
But with Zaytoun soon to premiere and three other films on the docket, it’s hard to imagine he has much downtime these days. Waiting in post-production are Tomorrow You’re Gone, a dark thriller starring Willem Dafoe and Michelle Monaghan, (“more like a David Lynch movie,” he says), and Officer Down, the story of a rogue police officer who seeks revenge against the men responsible for a young woman’s death. Dorff is also working alongside a Fanning sister again—this time with Dakota (he appeared with Elle Fanning in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere). The movie, based on the debut novel The Motel Life by writer and musician Willy Vlautin, also stars Emile Hirsch and is about two brothers who leave their Reno motel after being involved in a hit-and-run accident.
As for the future, he quips, “Maybe I’ll play an Italian barman at the Principe in my next movie. I’ll need to learn better Italian.” Surely that’s nothing an extended stay at the Hotel Principe couldn’t fix. —Nandita Khanna (@dresslikenan)
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