By BECKY HATTERSLEY/Montana State News
Perry Hofferber is a genuine fourth generation Montanan and he looks it. He has a large mustache, drives an old Ford truck, and can pull off a cowboy hat well – attributes that have been beneficial to him over the years; helping him pursue an acting career that has lasted almost twenty years now.
Like any artist, he has a day job too: He is a research assistant for the Spring Wheat program at Montana State University. Hofferber considers acting to be just a hobby at the moment, but his resume grows a little more every year; working alongside big names like Rick Schroder, Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.
A Billings native, Hofferber grew up around horses. Fresh out of high school, he got a job in West Yellowstone working for an outfitter, giving him a taste of the cowboy life and helped him perfect riding and roping skills – talents his agent used to originally cast him as a stunt man.
“Return to Lonesome Dove,” a 1993 movie set in Montana, was Hofferber’s first role, which he received by responding to a public casting call. He recalls, “getting all dressed up in my cowboy costume and going to Butte, my kids too. We got in line with hundreds of other people and the casting director pulled us out and signed us up.”
He was an extra for that movie, but it sparked an interest for acting in him as he realized more could come from it. At the time, Hofferber was a single father going to school at MSU for a bachelor’s in both range science and soil science degrees. He later continued his education to include an associate degree in construction and a masters in agricultural extension adult and public education.
Raising two children to adulthood while simultaneously pursuing multiple degrees wasn’t easy, but it’s something he looks back on and is proud of. He made the acting gigs a family affair that both he and his kids participated in. “The Last Ride” and an Ivomec-Merk bovine vaccine commercial, are two of the roles they got where they play a family together.
In the 1998 film “The Horse Whisperer,” he was a cowboy. He recalls working next to Robert Redford and being impressed with the way he treated all the locals. This was a common trend for many of the bigger names he has worked with. Micky Rourke and Graham Green, stars in the 1995 film “The Last Ride,” were “very personable, signing kids’ autographs.”
“The Legacy of the Little Big Horn,” a 1998 movie involving a re-enactment of Custer’s last stand, was one of Hofferber’s favorite acting experiences. He played Lt. Hodgson, a young soldier who ends up getting shot off his horse in the middle of the stream and then shot again at close range. It involved a lot of fake blood.
“The plastic explosives scared the crap out of me and the director said ‘that’s good, you’re supposed to look scared.”
At the time, Hofferber was about 20 years older than the character of Lt. Hodgson he was playing. It required a lot of makeup and, “I asked if they could make it permanent,” he joked.
One of his bigger roles in a major motion picture was in “Northfork,” a 2003 film set in rural Montana that depicted the struggle of a small child to beat an ultimately life-threatening illness. Hofferber played the part of the pharmacist and had dialogue parts with Nick Nolte who played a priest.
He has also played leading roles in several student films, most of which have won Tracy awards. These roles are volunteer-based on Hofferber’s part, but they are worth it to him as it helps the students out and they do good work. They are winning awards and moving up in the movie business themselves. These films include “25+1,” “Murphy’s Law,” and “A Daubney Vacation.”
In addition to movies, he has done his fair share of commercials, many airing on local channels seen by his friends and family. They are usually parts where he plays the typical Montana cowboy, advertising tourism, trucks, and good food. One of them portrayed him singing and playing the guitar at a big barn dance. When it ran his friends started asking him to bring his guitar to barbecues. He got a kick out of this, explaining, “I can’t play guitar, but I can sure act like it.”
His most recent role is that of “Jerry”, a man caught in a snowstorm on his way home from his broken down truck in “Twist of Fate”. Hofferber got the part because the NBC Universal studios in New York City liked his profile on montanastateactors.com.
“They never met me, they just said he’s an actor and has the look we want,” he said of their selection process. “I had to wear a down vest and they had me put a bunch of clothes under my parka so that I could look like I was 280 pounds.”
“Twist of Fate” is the story of a real life incident that happened on Nov. 11, 2011. It was filmed in Jackson Creek near the Bozeman Pass at the end of January, and will play on the Weather Channel in June.
As for his future plans, they’re still up in the air, “I really don’t know, my kids are grown up and out of state. I would like to go where it’s warm but I don’t want to leave my home, it’s a very significant thing.” As far as acting goes he is content to keep going the way he has. “I have no intent on going to Hollywood or New York, but as long as they come find me, I’ll act.”
Edited by Matt York