Veteran actor Dustin Hoffman discussed his career and life in an in-depth and highly emotional A Life In Pictures event sponsored by Deutsche Bank, in conversation with Francine Stock.
Dustin Hoffman's Career in Film
Conventional wisdom dictates that film actors traditionally fall into two key archetypes: one is the often anonymous but highly-regarded character actor; the other is the movie star, who can sell a film on the strength of their name and sheer force of their charisma. Dustin Hoffman has disproved this distinction. A three-time BAFTA winner and five-time nominee, his immersive, effortlessly convincing performances have placed him in the upper echelon of Hollywood’s leading men.
Hoffman’s acting career began when, at age 19, he dropped out of college to pursue the stage at the Pasadena Playhouse. There, he befriended another young actor, Gene Hackman, who he followed to New York, camping out in his apartment whilst seeking acting work. He was an unconventional-looking actor for the time and had difficulty getting roles in an industry searching more for pretty faces than raw acting talent.
BAFTA/ Jamie SimmondsHis breakthrough performance was as the awkward 21-year-old, Benjamin Braddock, in Mike Nichols’s The Graduate (1967), a performance which won him his first BAFTA. With the huge success of The Graduate, Hoffman was on a roll, winning another BAFTA in 1969 for his performances in John and Mary and Midnight Cowboy. Of his 12 acting credits in the Seventies, four earned BAFTA nominations – including Marathon Man (1976), All the President’s Men (1976) and Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979), in which he starred opposite Meryl Streep. In 1982, he won his third BAFTA, playing yet another antihero – a down-and-out actor who dresses up as a woman to get a part on a daytime soap opera in the much-loved Tootsie. One of his most memorable performances to date was opposite Tom Cruise in Rain Man (1988); his BAFTA-nominated portrayal of an autistic genius demonstrated the actor’s range and lightness of touch.
In the 1990s, Hoffman turned to comedy with Wag the Dog, in which he played an unscrupulous Hollywood executive out to fool the country into believing they were at war. Further comedy performances followed with the Meet the Fockers trilogy, romantic comedy Stranger than Fiction (2006) and children’s fantasy Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007). Hoffman has also sought out diverse projects, including voice work on animated feature Kung Fu Panda (2008) and narrating documentaries.
This year marks Hoffman’s directorial debut film, Quartet, based on Ronald Harwood’s stage play of the same name. The film stars Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Sheridan Smith and Michael Gambon.
With a career spanning six decades, Dustin Hoffman is undoubtedly a cinematic ‘tour de force’ and one of the most iconic actors of a generation.
Dustin Hoffman and BAFTA
Hoffman has been nominated for a total of eight BAFTAs, of which he won three. His first came in 1968, when he won Most Promising Newcomer for his breakout role in The Graduate. He then went on to win Best Actor in 1969 for his roles in Midnight Cowboy and John & Mary and again for Tootsie in 1983. In 1997, Hoffman was honoured with a Britannia Award by BAFTA in Los Angeles.
Collecting his BAFTA Britannia Award in 1997
BAFTA Los Angeles
Presenting the BAFTA for Best Film in 2010
With his wife and Mickey Rourke at the 2010 BAFTAs
With John Voight at John Schlesinger's A Life In Pictures
BAFTA Los Angeles / Lucy Nicholson