JIM HOFFMASTER, a 1980 graduate of Durand High School (DHS), returned to his alma mater on Friday, June 14, with director Jane Rosemont and a local production crew, to film a documentary of his life. Rosemont can be seen filming on June 14 with her director of production, Petra, of Petra Productions. The crew also consisted of Tyler, taking still shots, and Bonnie, who handled lighting.
The filmmakers were assisted by Durand High School Principal Shannon Knapp and Durand resident Carla Brinker, who coordinated the shoot. Also in attendance for the filming was Hoffmaster’s best friend from high school, Carrie Meade Keeley.
Even though the high school was mostly empty, Hoffmaster could not avoid being recognized by a fan. A Durand summer school student, who is a fan of Hoffmaster’s work on the Showtime series “Shameless,” was hard at work in a computer lab when she saw Hoffmaster enter the high school. The student had to go home before she was able to meet Hoffmaster, so Brinker and Knapp tracked her down and encouraged her to return to the high school, where she was able to meet her acting hero face-to-face.
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
Jim Hoffmaster is known to many locals as a member of the Durand High School Class of 1980, but to the rest of the world, he is known as Kermit, his character on the Showtime series “Shameless.” On Friday, June 14, the movie star returned to Durand to stand on the stage “where it all began,” in the Durand High School (DHS) cafeteria. Hoffmaster spent the day catching up with local friends he hadn’t seen in decades, exploring the city and filming at the high school and Durand Union Station.
“Acting Like Nothing is Wrong” is the name of Hoffmaster’s documentary, which is being directed by Jane Rosemont, an Academy Award-qualified film maker who is producing her fourth film. The film, though biographical in nature, will “poignantly explore Hoffmaster’s process of navigating life without a stable upbringing,” a journey that began with childhood abandonment and abuse.
Hoffmaster was born in West Virginia and bounced around the state’s foster care system throughout his childhood, never really finding a place where he fit in. In Durand, Hoffmaster finally found what he was looking for: people he could relate to and a family that loved and included him. Jim developed relationships with his fellow choir, theater and madrigals performers, and he eventually found his family – prior to the start of his senior year at DHS – when he moved in with William and Margaret Zick, local parents of 13 children.
“I moved in with the Zicks after I turned 18,” shared Hoffmaster. “I didn’t really feel supported, in terms of my acting, at my last foster home, and I was tired of being introduced as my family’s foster child. The thing that really touched me, I had been in five different foster homes before moving in with the Zicks, and Mr. Zick and I really connected. He was an old jazz guy, and we were both kind of night owls. One night we were sitting there listening to his music and he said to me, ‘Jim, if you want, we will adopt you.’ I’d been with families for 11 years and never felt accepted, and here I was, not even two months into staying with this family and they were willing to adopt me. That is just how cool that family was.”
Jim now lives in the Los Angeles area and had not been back to Durand since 1980, and he admitted on June 14 that he did not recognize the city, at least until he arrived on the DHS campus.
“When I pulled into the high school, that’s when I knew where I was,” explained Jim. “I have a lot of fond memories of Durand and performing on this stage. Yes, acting and getting the applause was gratifying, but more than that, this is where I finally found my people. It wasn’t the jocks or the people smoking in the bathroom; it was these crazy people who liked to get up on stage and act goofy.”
For more about “Acting Like Nothing is Wrong,” visit www.actinglikenothingiswrong.com.