Goliath star Diana Hopper moved on her own to LA before landing a starring role on the Amazon Prime Video series. Goliath chronicles Billy (Billy Bob Thornton)’s attempts to repair his tattered reputation as well as his fraught relationship with daughter Denise, played by Hopper. The Memphis native had plenty of insight to offer, reflecting on her character’s dynamic and often fraught relationship with her father. Diana has also stepped into the production realm, co-producing Come Correct and Picture Wheel. She sat down with Cliché to give us all the details on acting with the greats, navigating failure, and taking pleasure in the little things.
Cliché: Though you had already booked a few roles, you’re originally from Tennessee and had no intentions of moving to LA. What made you decide that this was the best professional decision for you? Was it daunting being thrust into the epicenter of the industry?
Diana Hopper: I’ve wanted to be a part of films and television since I was young, and Los Angeles being the epicenter of the entertainment industry, I always knew I would end up here at some point. Making such a big move across the country by myself was terrifying. I mean, I grew up in one city. One house. My entire life. I was extremely homesick for the first few years, and I still miss it (my family especially). But I’ve built a life for myself here and that in itself has allowed personal growth. It’s basically all about the people for me, and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing some pretty incredible ones in LA.
What first intrigued you about Goliath as a project?
I’ve always respected Billy as an artist. When I found out that there was an opportunity to work with someone I admired so much, I was in.
Did you immediately connect with your character Denise or did you grow to understand her through her dynamic with the other characters?
Hmmmm. Good question. A little bit of both, I guess. You know, you come in with some ideas, what you think you know. But ultimately a character has a life of its own. And it was my responsibility as an artist to explore and create that life. It also helps to be working with incredibly talented writers and actors.
How would you describe Denise’s relationship with her father Billy?
In one sentence: the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
What’s it like working with Billy Bob Thornton on set? Did he offer you any acting advice?
Working with Billy, at the risk of sounding cliché, is a dream. He’s present. All the time. It makes my job so easy. I learn so much just from observing and being around him.
Goliath is all about Billy seeking redemption and revenge. Has there ever been a moment in your life where you felt you needed to redeem yourself and how did you go about it?
I feel like there are times, big and small, throughout all of our lives where we feel like Billy in some way. Redemption, at the end of the day, is about righting a wrong. It takes self awareness and ideally communication to the person you feel you’ve wronged. Even if sometimes that person is yourself.
In that vein, the acting world at large seems like it would be filled with professional highs and lows. How did you maintain your confidence in an industry filled with so much rejection, and what advice do you have for actors who might be struggling?
Oh, man. So many highs and lows! It’s like the world’s most extreme roller coaster. Sometimes you’re on top of the world, and other times you feel like hiding under a rock. You may not think other people go through it like you do, but they do. We all do. The best advice I can give is try not to tie your happiness 100 percent to your work. Tie it to friends, family, experiences, adventures, cooking, reading, WHATEVER it is that makes YOU happy on a day to day basis. It is easier said than done when you LOVE what you do so much, I get it! But trust me, the more you can stay present in your life and just let the work ebb and flow, the better.
Talk about Denise’s arc for season two and her conflict with her father. It sounds like we’re going to really start seeing her come into her own!
In season one, we saw Denise wanting desperately to be closer with her father. In season two, she gets her wish, but it’s not exactly what she expected.
You’ve also co-produced a few short films. Tell us about them! Is there a big difference between acting and producing? Do you prefer one over the other?
Yes! Come Correct and Picture Wheel. I enjoy many aspects of the process of production, be it film or theatre. In fact, on Come Correct I was also the production designer, which means I designed the set and worked closely with the cinematographer to create the look and feel of the film. Producing is a lot of work but extremely fun and creative in a different way. I can’t wait to do it again!
What do you see yourself working on in the future? Do you have any other passion projects waiting in the wings?
I enjoy writing and am planning on getting something that I’ve written up on its feet in the near future. Until then just working on projects that come my way and taking it one day at a time.
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Building a Life of Her Own: Diana Hopper Opens Up About Goliath, Co-producing, and More. Photo Credits: Eric Fischer