Born and raised in New York, Hoffman caught the acting bug in high school and later attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned a B.F.A. in Drama in 1989. Following graduation, the struggling actor secured his first on-screen credit in a 1991 episode of of Law & Order. He later appeared in a variety of small roles, including a part alongside Al Pacino and Chris O'Donnell in 1992's Scent of a Woman. Here in one of his early films, he plays a bat-wielding bully in the fluffy 1993 Disney comedy My Boyfriend's Back.