Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
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Some actors can go their entire lives making millions of dollars and pulling in billions at the box office without receiving much critical acclaim. Then, you have those actors that are the full package, racking up awards left and right while still having their movies be financially successful. Dustin Hoffman certainly falls into that category as he’s had both commercial and critical success. Though he didn’t really bloom until his 30s, Hoffman has been considered one of the finest actors of all-time.Advertisements:
Hoffman came from a family that worked in show business, but not on the acting side of things. His father worked on set for films shot by Columbia, so naturally Hoffman was born in Los Angeles on August 8, 1937 near the studio. Hoffman spent his entire childhood in the LA area and developed an interest in music before acting. After finishing high school, he took theatrical classes after saying that he was better in that venture than he was music.
At this time, Hoffman hadn’t finished college, wanting to get into the arts. “When I told my parents I wanted to go into acting because I was flunking out of my first year of junior college, they were relieved that I had picked something other than joining the Army,” Hoffman said. “But I can’t imagine how they had high hopes for me.”
Hoffman started to appear on stage for the first time in the late 1950s and early 1960s after making his way to New York City. Early on in his career, Hoffman had roomed together with some other future stars. This included Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall, all of whom were struggling and young at the time. Thankfully, all of them would eventually find their footing.
Hoffman started out his career as a television actor, making his debut in 1961 on an episode of “Naked City”. He’d continue doing guest spots throughout the next several years on shows like “The Nurses”, as well as having television films. It wasn’t until 1967 that Hoffman made his film debut, having a brief appearance in “The Tiger Makes Out”.
That same year, though, Hoffman had one of his most memorable roles to date. He played Ben Braddock in the film “The Graduate” that’s considered to be one of the best films ever made and earned Hoffman his first Oscar nomination. This set up Hoffman as a star, who finished out the decade with “Midnight Cowboy” (another Oscar nomination) and “John and Mary”.
In “Midnight Cowboy”, Hoffman played the role of Ratzo Rizzo, who he said was the character most like the younger version of himself. “I was an outsider, on the periphery looking in,” he said. “And when I came to New York I did all those odd jobs, and if you’re cleaning toilets for a living you’re not that far from being Ratso so it wasn’t that difficult a part.”
Hoffman continued to add some memorable film roles during the 1970s with movies such as “Straw Dogs”, “All the President’s Men” and “Kramer vs. Kramer”. The latter of which earned Hoffman his first Oscar win on his fourth nomination, all of which were for Best Actor in a Leading Role. During this time, he’d gone away from television, having just two appearances between 1968 and 1991 with a narration of a TV movie and a performance of “Death of a Salesman”. Even during the 1990s he had just two TV roles with voices in “A Wish for Wings That Work” and “The Simpsons”.
Throughout the 1980s, Hoffman was very selective of his roles. He had acclaimed performances in “Tootsie” and “Rain Man” which made up for a majority of his work in the decade. “Rain Man” landed Hoffman his second Oscar win, playing the autistic Raymond Babbitt. Then, of course, there was the forgettable “Ishtar”, which some say is one of the biggest box office flops of all-time.
Hoffman was a bit busier during the 1990s, starring in major films such as “Hook”, “Outbreak” and “Wag the Dog”, which is his seventh and most recent Oscar nomination. The expanded schedule continued into the new millennium when he starred in “I Heart Huckabees”, “Runaway Jury” and “Meet the Fockers” just to name a few. Over the past decade or so, Hoffman has also been known for his voice work as Master Shifu in the “Kung Fu Panda” animated series that’s been quite the powerful franchise of its own.
Over the past few years, Hoffman hasn’t done much work outside of that same character. He did appear in the 2017 film “The Meyerowitz Stories” alongside the likes of Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller, and will be in the upcoming Italian film “L’uomo del labirinto”. He’s also made a return to television with shows like “Luck” and “Medici: Masters of Florence”.
Some had wondered where Hoffman had gone in recent years after taking some time off. “I stopped working a few years ago because I just lost a spark that I’d had before,” he admitted. “I thought I’d just try writing, and maybe start directing, but I did it very quietly.” For Hoffman, expect him to be behind the camera more in the coming years.
Looking back on his career, Hoffman doesn’t think he’s been the guy like a lot of stars that have found his type of success. “I have never been, I guess, a signature actor,” he said. “Certain actors have a really dominant personality - we go to see Jack Nicholson and I don’t think anyone ever went to see me, they went to see me doing a part. I always wanted to be a signature actor. I’d love to be Jack Nicholson.”