Carrie, too? Forty-six years ago, Sissy Spacek presided over cinema's bloodiest prom in Brian De Palma's 1976 movie version of the classic Stephen King chiller. Over the ensuing decades, several filmmakers have tried to resurrect the ghost of Carrie White, whether via the latter-day 1999 sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2, or the 2002 and 2013 remakes that premiered the small and big screens, respectively. And one of those projects almost involved Spacek's daughter, Schuyler Fisk, stepping beneath the bucket of pig's blood where her mother once stood.
"They did approach me," Fisk reveals to Yahoo Entertainment. "I don't remember which incarnation it was — I just knew it would be me reprising her role. It just didn't feel like the right thing for so many reasons, so it was never gonna happen. I feel like Carrie is such an epic film as it is, so the idea of trying to do anything else to recreate it just didn't feel necessary. It was sweet that they thought of me! But it just wasn't the right thing."
While she declined the opportunity to reprise one of her mother's most famous roles, Fisk — whose father is legendary production designer Jack Fisk — leapt at the opportunity to portray Spacek's onscreen daughter in the new film Sam & Kate. And that's not the film's only parent-child pairing: Dustin Hoffman and his real-life eldest, Jake Hoffman, play father and son in writer-director Darren Le Gallo's romantic drama. Off-screen, the families have known each other for years, but this is the first time that they've worked together as a quartet.
"Our parents have met in the past, and Jake and I have been friends since our early twenties," Fisk says. "I remember us hanging out one time and going, 'Wouldn't it be cool if our parents worked together one day?' We never thought that we'd all work together!"
Fisk and Jake Hoffman play the title characters in the film, a single guy and gal who fall into a relationship after a meet-cute. Meanwhile, an attraction also sparks between their aging single parents, Bill (Hoffman) and Tina (Spacek). "My dad was the first one attached to the film," the younger Hoffman recalls. "There was another actor who was going to play my part originally, and he fell out to do a play. So Darren asked my dad his blessing to offer the role to me. Dad was like, 'It's not up to me, but go ahead and ask him!' It kind of just went from there." (Father and son have previously acted together in the HBO series Luck.)
With the Hoffmans in place as Sam and Bill, respectively, Le Gallo — who is married to Oscar-nominated star Amy Adams — decided to feature another parent-child team as Kate and Tina. Enter Spacek and Fisk, whose previous pairings include the Stephen King-inspired series, Castle Rock, as well as Trading Mom. "Mom and Dustin had never worked together, and they'd been wanting to, so it just made sense," Fisk says. "When I heard about it, I could have done a backflip. The whole thing sounded too good to be true."
In a lively conversation, Fisk and Hoffman describe the experience of growing up with famous parents, remember their earliest onscreen roles and discuss their creative pursuits beyond acting.
Schuyler, did you and your mom have any ground rules for how you were going to work together in Sam & Kate?
Fisk: That probably would've been a good idea, but no! [Laughs] I mean, we have a really good back and forth and whenever either of us are working on other projects where we're not together, we still work with each other by running lines together and talking about the characters. There was a nice built-in comfort level that made things feel really free and like you could just do anything, and it wouldn't be embarrassing, because this person loved you.
And we definitely drew from things in our own relationship that we connected to in these characters. One of the blanket themes of the movie is what happens when you get older and your parents get older, and there's that role reversal. Your relationships change, and that dynamic changes. That's just life, and we're all going through that. One of the coolest things about working with my mom is that we have this deep base of love, but we can also push [each other's] buttons like nobody else! That definitely came in handy during this film.
Jake, back in the day your dad was famous for being an intensely Method actor — there's that famous story about what Laurence Olivier told him while Marathon Man, for example. Has he mellowed all these years later?
Hoffman: Oh yeah. Although I will say that part of Bill and Sam's dynamic is that Bill likes winding Sam up and messing with him a little bit. So Dad was definitely a little Method while we were shooting those moments. A lot of times, it would be fun and playful and helpful, but every once in a while I'd kind of give him a look and he'd be like, "All right, I'll cool it." And I'd go, "Thank you."
Schuyler, you started acting as a kid in movies like The Baby-Sitters Club. Were your parents encouraging at that point?
Fisk: Sort of. They wanted to support my dreams, obviously, but they also did not want me to get into acting too young. Of course, I was making movies when I was 11, so that was a contradiction! But they let me do that, and that was awesome. They wanted me to have as normal a childhood as I could, which I feel like I did. And then when I was older, I definitely went out to really pursue things. There was a time when I told them — I think I was probably four or five — "Why don't we live in L.A.? You're ruining my career!" [Laughs] They were just like, "You'll thank us one day."
It was actually accidental how I got cast in Baby-Sitters Club. My cousin was working for the director [Melanie Mayron] and they had their lead fall through. Randomly he was like, "My cousin's acting," so I put myself on tape and got the part. It was one of those random coincidences where things lined up for me. My parents let me do it — they weren't going to ruin my career that much! But they also weren't taking me out to auditions in L.A. and that whole thing.
Jake, you had small parts in Rain Man and Hook when you were young. Did those experiences make you more interested in filmmaking or less?
Hoffman: I was an extra in both of those movies — it was just a fun thing I got to do. You know, "Let's visit Dad at work and do a scene!" I was eight years old when he made Rain Man, and they just threw me in the background of the scene in the diner. And with Hook, I think I was 12-year-old then, and I wanted to be a baseball player at that time. I wasn't even thinking about acting or filmmaking! So they put me in the baseball scene and that was perfect for me. Even though I wasn't aware of it at the time, growing up on movie sets probably shaped who I am as an adult for sure. But back then, I was more excited that they had sugar cereal at craft services! We didn't have Frosted Flakes at home, so it was a big deal on set.
Fisk: Jake, have we talked about this? I was actually at the Hook premiere! It was one of the few premieres I went to with my parents.
Hoffman: No way!
Fisk: Yeah; I remember it, because I loved the movie and the party was so cool. There was like a wonderland of games and and stuff for kids. Maybe we met each other there, but I don't know.
Hoffman: You're bringing back memories.
To that point, what was it like to be a kid in Hollywood in the ’90s?
Hoffman: Well if you want me to say something embarrassing, I had a pager in high school! [Laughs] But honestly, it's hard to answer that question, because I was in such a different phase of life.
Fisk: I was completely and totally enamored by L.A. at that point in my life. All I wanted to do was move there and pursue my dreams of being an artist, you know? For me, it was always this magical world that I went to with my family sometimes. I remember rollerblading on the Venice boardwalk, and just loving it. My parents always laugh at me, because I wanted to live in L.A. so badly and I begged for them to move there. They said, "But Schuyler, what about the smog?" And I was like, "I love the smog!" [Laughs] They still love to bring that up now.
This can be a delicate subject, but when children of celebrities decide to get into the industry, there are certainly advantages that come with having famous parents. Were you both aware of the advantages you had?
Fisk: I guess I would say that there are definitely advantages, and sometimes disadvantages. For me, the biggest advantage was growing up around movies sets, and that environment where we saw our parents working and passionately invested in their projects. You don't even realize how much you're learning when you're on a set at that age, but when you're making your own movies and looking back, you understand why it feels so comfortable.
I never really thought about the negatives until I started doing projects. Obviously people are interested about what you're going to be like based on your parents, so they were like: "Aren't you worried about being compared to your mom?" And I thought, "Maybe I am now, because everyone else is!" But other than that, I just never thought about it. It's not a competition — we're both doing our own thing, and being our own people. I'm not trying to be my mom, but I definitely have learned a lot from her and respect her career tremendously.
Hoffman: I can definitely relate to what Schuyler is saying. For me, one of the biggest questions actors have when they're starting out is: "How do you get representation? How do you get an agent or a manager?" There's this catch-22 where you can't get a résumé without representation, and you can't get representation without a résumé. A lot of people assume that being the child of somebody well-known means you won't have that dilemma, and that's half-true. Ultimately, I think it's a disadvantage, not an advantage or at least it was for me. I wasn't a prodigy and I had to learn that getting into rooms before you're ready doesn't really help you.
You both have pursued careers outside of acting. Jake, you've directed short films and music videos — are you looking to make a feature?
Hoffman: Yeah, I'll be doing that soon, actually. There's something I wrote that I'll be directing in the spring. It's called The Problem with Poets and it's a modern-day romance set in Brooklyn. I'm really excited about that.
And Schuyler, you're also a musician — we hear one of your songs in Sam & Kate. When did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue?
Fisk: I picked up a guitar in high school. My mom had guitars around the house, and I already liked to sing, but I needed to accompany myself, especially as I started writing my own songs. I was doing it as a hobby, but while I was pursuing acting, there was so much downtime that I felt I needed an outlet for something creative between jobs. I started playing gigs around L.A. and people asked me: "Can we have a copy of that song?" As more people asked me, I thought, "Maybe I should record some stuff!" So over time, I started focusing on doing music as a career also. I have a record coming out, We Could Be Alright, that I'm really excited about.
The song I wrote for Sam & Kate is called "Life After," and I felt very protective of it. It had to be a specific thing — if it was overly sappy, I don't think it would have been right for the film. My original voice demo on my phone is from October 2020. I was at my mom's house, playing on her piano and it just sort of came out. I remember being a little nervous to send it to Darren, because I hadn't told him I wanted to write it, and I didn't want him to feel any pressure. But thank goodness, he liked it!
Your mother famously won an Oscar for playing the late Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter. Did you have your own relationship with her? Is she a source of inspiration?
Fisk: Gosh, what a force, right? I've obviously been thinking about her a lot recently; her whole family has been on my mind. I knew Loretta as a kid, but it didn't click with me until I was older that she sounds exactly like my mother in that movie. I told my mom, and she was like, "Oh honey, I was sounding like her." [Laughs]
She was such a wonderful, giving, beautiful woman who was very supportive of me and my music. I got sing with her, I got to open for her concerts and I got to hang out and talk with her about songwriting. I'm just so grateful for knowing her. She was part of our lives, and she and my mother were very close. So yeah, she's been an inspiration — she was such a badass.
Do you have any plans to write a tribute song in her memory?
Fisk: That's such a good idea! I've been so close to the emotion of her passing, so that hasn't been anything I've thought about yet. But I probably will.
Hoffman: You don't get any royalties from that, by the way. [Laughs]
Fair enough! I relinquish all royalties. You mentioned how you both have been friends for decades — was it awkward to act out a romance here?
Fisk: It never felt awkward to me. Did you ever feel awkward, Jake?
Hoffman: Not really, no. It was funny — we'd have a lot of fun falling in love in the scene and then afterwards, we'd be hanging out with Schuyler's husband and kids and my then-fiancée, now-wife.
Fisk: This was a funny moment: we were doing a post-coital scene in bed, and in between takes Jake would be like, "I want you to come to my wedding!" It was such a good moment. We're wrapped in sheets, waiting for them to re-set the lights or whatever.
Hoffman: I forgot that's when I said that! That's so funny. After the first couple of scenes with Schuyler, we both realized this was going to be great. It came together easily, instead of us feeling like: "How are we gonna make this work?" I loved working with Schuyler. I'm fully expecting her to put me in one of her music videos.
I'm sure you get asked this a lot, but do you have a favorite movie among the many that your parents have made?
Hoffman: How about if we mix it up, and I tell you my favorite Sissy Spacek movie? I'm a huge fan of Badlands. Making Sam & Kate, it was not lost on me that I got to be in a movie with Sissy Spacek from Badlands. I'm still kind of pinching myself about how cool that is.
Fisk: Yeah, that was a good one. I'vs seen a good bit of my mom's films, but not the whole catalogue if I'm being honest. [Laughs] I have seen Badlands, and I have a special connection to Coal Miner's Daughter. There are so many epic movies of Dustin's that I love, but I just saw Tootsie again a couple of weeks ago and it's so good. He's so good and the whole pace of it — I just love it.
Sam & Kate premieres Nov. 11 in theaters.