Born in Brooklyn and raised outside of Columbus, Ohio, John Hoffman received a BFA in Theater from Hofstra University. He began his career as an actor, working extensively in theater before moving to Los Angeles, where he made his television debut playing the Mad Hatter in 100 episodes of Disney's television series Alice in Wonderland (1991 to 1992). He also played a role in the Showtime TV movie Attack of the 5'2" Women and landed a regular role in the short-lived Fox series Fortune Hunter. At the same time, Hoffman's writing career began to take off, and he played Joe Scarlotti opposite Diane Keaton in the Disney TV film he adapted from his one-man play, Northern Lights (1997).
Since then, Hoffman has written scripts for almost all of the major studios, including multi-picture writing deals with Warner Bros. and Disney. He made his feature film directing debut with his own screenplay, Good Boy! (2003) for MGM and Jim Henson Pictures.