The Tortoise and the Whoopee Cushion

Photo: Andrew Eccles

In Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Dustin Hoffman plays Magorium, the 243-year-old owner of a magically tricked-out toy store. Natalie Portman plays his manager and nervous successor. Since they spent months in a veritable holiday-gift wonderland, we thought we’d ask them what they plan on giving and getting (they hope) this year.

What holiday do you celebrate?
We’re Jewish, but my father was atheist, so we celebrated Christmas. I went out once when I understood the irony of it and bought bagels to string around the tree. Now we celebrate Hanukkah.

Do you like to give experiential presents or actual material goods?
I like something in a box. I always go to my wife Lisa’s favorite clothing stores. I love sensing what she would like. Over the years I’ve scored about 80 percent.

You have six kids. Have you gotten any of your shopping done yet?
My son Jake is pleading with me to get season tickets to the Knicks. I have two grandkids, and the prop people on Magorium sent them a shitload of toys, but the best one I haven’t gotten yet—a little vintage car with pedals.

What’s the best present you’ve gotten from your kids?
My daughter Jenna got me a tortoise earlier this year. And we’ve become very close.

What about Lisa?
I did get a card from her a few years ago in which she promised to learn tennis so she could play with me. But that has not happened. So I’m still waiting.

Where do you like to shop?
I love housewares. Anything from Brookstone or Conran’s in London. Photographs from Wallspace and the David Nolan Gallery in New York. Sweatpants from Uniqlo and Lululemon. This year, everybody’s getting Lisa Hoffman bath products from Bergdorf.

What would you like?
A day without emotional stress. My father-in-law to get better fast. My wife to take me on a fishing-boat trip. Oh, and Achile socks. I have about eight, and I will not fly without my lucky socks.

After spending months on a magical-toy-store set, don’t you kind of miss it?
Actually, I’m lucky, because my friend Jeanine Lobell has a great toy store called Enchanted on the Upper East Side. It’s sort of like Magorium because it focuses on classic toys. She doesn’t have fancy-pants, newfangled electronic stuff. It’s all wooden toys. The kind of stuff that will spark a kid’s creativity. A portion of the proceeds goes to fund scholarships for kids in the Waldorf schools like Rudolf Steiner, so it’s not just a school for rich kids. I get all my kid gifts there.

What were you obsessed with when you were a kid?
I had Barbies and My Little Ponies and Cabbage Patch Kids. I was a true eighties child.

What holiday do you celebrate?
We’re a Hanukkah family. Sometimes I got eight presents; sometimes, one.

What’s the best gift you’ve given?
My family and friends have been doing FINCA (Foundation for International Community Assistance) donations. It’s a nonprofit microfinance organization. It gives loans to women who earn under $3 a day, to start businesses in developing countries. So that’s nice, because, you know, I don’t really need anything.

What are you going to give this year?
One of my friends got his twin sister cooking classes, and she got him D.J. lessons. I thought that was pretty cool. Some friends of friends started this medical clinic in a village in Kenya, Lwala. They make beautiful jewelry that they sell at, and all of the proceeds go back to this medical clinic.

What would you get Dustin?
A whoopee cushion. He would enjoy that. He’s a goof.

Set design by Mary Howard. Styling by Karyn Pappas. Hair for Natalie by Peter Butler at Artists by Timothy Priano. Hair for Dustin by Daniel Erdman at Avantgroupe. Makeup by Jeanine Lobell at Magnet. Manicure by Gina Viviano at Artists by Timothy Priano. On Natalie: Chloé black dress courtesy of Albright Fashion Library. Doyle & Doyle Old European Diamond Cluster Ring, Doyle & Doyle Three-Strand Pearl & Chain Bracelet, Té Casan black flats. On Dustin: Prada Black Poplin stretch button-down shirt, Prada indigo pant, Florsheim black shoe courtesy of Albright Fashion Library.

The Tortoise and the Whoopee Cushion