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You’re never too young for rebirth in Hollywood, a universal truth with which Stephen Dorff is by now well acquainted. At age 37, Dorff’s second (or third, or fourth) moment bloomed last week with the release of Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere,” in which he stars as an ennui-stricken actor holed up in the Chateau Marmont.
“I like to say that Sofia Coppola made me cool again,” Dorff says in Los Angeles a few weeks before the film’s release. “She landed this butterfly, this gem of a movie, in my lap at a time when I really needed it more personally than professionally.”
This story first appeared in the December 28, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Which isn’t to say that the actor hasn’t been grateful for the perks that come with being part of a buzzed-about film.
“I haven’t been shot by Mario Testino in like six years and now he’s shooting me for the cover of V Man and L’uomo Vogue,” Dorff says. “And Tom Ford has been really good to me for all of these events.”
Not that he was ever that far removed from the spotlight. A child actor from age 12, Dorff, whose father Steve is an Emmy-nominated composer, landed his first movie role in “The Power of One” at 18, and has built a diverse résumé that includes turns as Factory icon Candy Darling in “I Shot Andy Warhol,” the title character in John Waters’ “Cecil B. DeMented” and big-budget films like “Blade” and “Public Enemies.” Throw in a cameo in a Britney Spears video for good measure.
“Some people go, ‘Oh, [playing an actor in ‘Somewhere’] must be easy for him. He’s a bad-boy actor living at the Chateau…’ But it’s quite the opposite; it’s holding a movie together with nothing but pure emotion and facial expressions,” he says of Coppola’s minimal script. “You just don’t get that chance very often. You are either doing the sequel to a big movie or a teeny movie that not many people are going to see.”
That said, Dorff is certainly making the most of the renewed demand for his services. Larger audiences will see him next spring in the Adam Sandler-penned comedy “Born to Be a Star,” in which he plays a porn star named Dick Shadow.
“I’m really glad ‘Somewhere’ came out first,” he cracks.
And later in 2011 he will star in the $100 million Greek mythology action flick “Immortals” alongside Mickey Rourke, Kellan Lutz, John Hurt and Freida Pinto. Dorff said the experience of working with newbie Pinto was refreshing.
“I liked how un-actress-y she was,” he says.
Pinto marks the second “It” girl Dorff has shared screen time with in his recent work. In “Somewhere,” his character deals with the sudden arrival of his young daughter, played by Elle Fanning. Dorff says the role has opened him up to the idea of fatherhood.
“I’ve found a connection to these young people that I’ve never had in my life,” he says. “Maybe it means I’m supposed to be a dad. Hopefully that will happen sooner than later, but I’d like to do it right.”
And, in another reflective moment, he admits, “It’s a weird thing to grow up. Because I’ve been an outspoken, rebellious young guy for most of my life, I’ve been able in retrospect to realize I’m lucky that I never took it over the edge and there wasn’t a ‘True Hollywood Story’ on me.”