Dustin Hoffman Poster

Quotes (55)

  • We all believe what we read. I read how Tom Cruise and I were two big egos holding up shooting. I know that isn't true - but if I wasn't making a movie with him and I just picked up the paper, I'd believe it. That's interesting, isn't it?
  • I got into acting so that I could meet girls. Pretty girls came later. First, I wanted to start off with someone with two legs, who'd smile at me and look soft.
  • I lived below the official American poverty line until I was 31.
  • If a lot of dogs are on the beach, the first thing they do is smell each other's ass. The information that's gotten somehow makes pacifists out of all of them. I've thought, 'If only we smelled each other's asses, there wouldn't be any war.'
  • You go to the cinema and you realize you're watching the third act. There is no first or second act. There is this massive film-making where you spend this incredible amount of money and play right to the demographic. You can tell how much money the film is going to make by how it does on the first weekend. The whole culture is in the crap house. It's not just true in the movies, it's also true in the theater.
  • Stardom equals freedom. It's the only equation that matters.
  • I grew up thinking a movie star had to be like Rock Hudson or Tab Hunter, certainly nobody in any way like me.
  • God knows I've done enough crap in my life to grow a few flowers.
  • A good review from the critics is just another stay of execution.
  • [on the administration of President George Bush and its invasion of Iraq] "For me as an American, the most painful aspect of this is that I believe that [this] administration has taken the events of 9/11 and has manipulated the grief of the country and I think that's reprehensible. I don't think, like many of us, that the reasons we have been given for going to war are the honest reasons. If they are saying it's about the fact they have biological weapons and might have nuclear weapons and that gives us the liberty to pre-empt and strike because we think they might hit us, then what prevents Pakistan from attacking India, what prevents India from attacking Pakistan, what prevents us from going into North Korea? I believe--though I may wrong because I am no expert--that this war is about what most wars are about: hegemony, money, power and oil."
  • One thing about being successful is that I stopped being afraid of dying. Once you're a star you're dead already. You're embalmed.
  • [About his new film Stranger Than Fiction (2006)] "I'm really proud of it, and I've only said that about three times during my career."
  • [About acting] "You get caught off-guard during a take. Your mind goes wild and it just comes out 'Waaa, you talking to me!' "
  • I'm sixty-eight, I cry every chance I can.
  • Euthanasia is legal in Hollywood. They just kill the film if it doesn't succeed immediately.
  • I don't like the fact that I have to get older so fast, but I like the fact that I'm aging so well.
  • [in 2005] "I became an actor because I believed I was a failure. In acting, because so few of us ever get work, I could feel proud and fail with dignity. I was born into what I now know was a dysfunctional family. I found that out in therapy three weeks ago."
  • [on he and Gene Hackman as young stage actors and roommates in New York]: Psychologically, Gene/myself, we did not think about making it in the terms that people think about. We fully expected to be failures for our entire life. Meaning that we would always be scrambling to get a part. We were actors. We had no pretensions. There was more dignity in being unsuccessful.
  • [on working with Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)] She's an ox when it comes to acting. She eats words for breakfast. Working with her is like playing tennis with Chris Evert -- she keeps trying to hit the perfect ball.
  • [on Mike Nichols] He makes you feel kind of like a kite. He lets you go ahead and you do your thing. And then when you're finished he pulls you in by the string. But at least you've had the enjoyment of the wind.
  • [2004 quote] I once met Clint Eastwood, and it was remarkable. I studied him as I spoke to him. I looked down, and his pants were a little short -- they showed a bit too much of his socks. There was something so timid and shy and almost gawky about him in real life. I remember thinking to myself, Someone should have cast him in Meet John Doe (1941), the Frank Capra movie, because that's the real him. There's not a wisp of aggression about him. That's the real essence, not the guy who says, "Make my day."
  • The truth is, the older you get, the less variety of parts you are offered. If you're a star and you've spent most of your career being able to take your pick of the litter, you notice when the offers start to diminish. You're too old to play leads, so you're offered the supporting role - but many stars don't want to make that transition. They see it as a sign of symbolic impotence. And that the audience will no longer regard them as a star. I love acting, and I'm not going to determine what I do based on what I fear other people might think. I do what I want to do.
  • I wanted to be a jazz pianist, but I wasn't good enough. I got into city college because I didn't have the grades to get into university. I took acting because it was a way to get three credits. I just needed three credits and my friend told me to take acting because it was like gym - nobody fails you. I took it and that's literally how I got involved in acting.
  • On filming Kramer vs. Kramer (1979): What makes divorce happen is that you can't be in the same space any more, for whatever reason - but the love stays. And that's the killer. That's where the vehemence and anger and rage comes from.
  • I know it's written that I'm difficult. Barry Levinson - who I did four films with - told me that every press person comes up to him and asks, 'How do you work with that guy?' and he says, 'I've done nothing but extol what a privilege and fun it's been.' But not one interviewer has ever printed that. Look, the medical metaphor I use is, it's like you're on a table for brain surgery and you're being wheeled in and the guy leans in and says, 'Hi I'm your brain surgeon and don't worry - I'm not difficult, I'm not a perfectionist.' I am no different from the focus puller - you're either sharp or you're not.
  • On why he turned down great roles: I failed everything growing up. I was convinced I was failing for a reason. I wasn't intelligent or like most people. I could barely get through school. I was considered in my family to be a loser. My brother, who is older, was an A student - captain of the football team and the baseball team, and I was the comedian. And someone saying, 'Boy, you're a real comedian,' is like someone saying, 'Boy, you're a real loser.'
  • On how he became an actor: I started junior college in Los Angeles because I didn't have the grades to go to university and I didn't want to go into the military. So in my first year of junior college I'm failing and I don't know what to do. I don't want to get a job, I want to be a student, and a friend says, 'Take acting, because they don't flunk you - it's like gym, nobody gets an F.' "I took it and suddenly it was the first thing I ever did that wasn't painful. Where I held focus. And suddenly, rehearsing with somebody - learning lines - hours could pass by. And I begged my parents to let me go to this acting school, because I knew I couldn't fail."
  • On meeting Gene Hackman at the Pasadena Playhouse College of Theater Arts: They kicked him out after three months because he had no talent.
  • [Acting coach Barney Brown] told me, you can have a life. He didn't say anything about success. He said, 'Whether you direct, write, act or stage-manage, you're in the right place.' And he said, 'Go to New York and understand one thing - nothing is going to happen to you for 10 years. Give yourself 10 years and nothing is going to happen.' It was true. I found work where I could fail with dignity. Because 90% of us didn't get jobs.
  • On working at the New York Psychiatric Institute: It was one of the most illuminating experiences I ever had. You see all the devils we have and just see it out of control. The only thing that frightened me was, I had to hold people down while they were given shock treatments, but after a few months I said, 'I can't do it any more.' [At the time, he was reading "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest," and couldn't get over how close it mirrored life at the psychiatric institute.] You went in there normal and came out crazy in those days. You came out worse.
  • To this day, Robert Duvall says it was one of the best times of when we were all living together. Because I'd come home and they'd say, 'What did so-and-so do today?' and I'd act out the characters I'd met there. Gene Hackman would spend his entire day in the cinema. It was a place where the homeless went, because for 35 cents they could sleep there all day. He was in there at 10am and he heard one homeless guy in the balcony saying, 'You're sorry? You're sorry? What do you mean, you're sorry? You piss all over my date and you say you're sorry?'
  • [on choosing a profession where he felt secure in failure:] It's very painful for us to feel we deserve a life. That's the toughest thing. That we deserve to have a life. That can take a lifetime.
  • Working with Federico Fellini? That destabilised everything. That makes liars out of my parents. Because I believed what they told me. I should not have turned down Fellini. If he wants you to do it in mumbo jumbo, if it's the worst script you've ever read, you do not turn down the great artists. I turned Samuel Beckett down! I didn't show up for a meeting at a bar in Paris. I got too scared. It was to do 'Godot.' They called me up and said he waited there for an hour! That's the title of my autobiography - 'I Turned Beckett Down.' But I just froze. I look back and I can't call up Federico now and say, 'I changed my mind. Will you work with me?'
  • [on first turning down The Graduate (1967)] It was like a bad dream for me. And it came at a time when I was beginning to get work off-Broadway as an actor and I'd just been in a hit and I'd gotten awards and I thought for the rest of my life my dream will come true: I will be an off-Broadway actor for the rest of my life. And that would have been enough. More than enough. Steady employment was the goal. If God had come down at that moment and said to me or Gene Hackman or Robert Duvall, 'Sign a contract here that says "You're never going to be successful, you're never going to have a lead, you're never going to be rich and famous, you will never be on Broadway, you will never be in the West End - you'll be not even off, but off-off-off-Broadway, but you will never see a day without work' - we would have signed on the dotted line in a New York minute.
  • Someone once said to me, 'Some of us choose to live with a lifeboat just a little bit out of our reach.' I'd like to reach a point where I no longer bullshit myself. I think that's the natural human condition - to lie to yourself. Because the truth is painful.
  • [on Meryl Streep]: She's extraordinarily hardworking, to the extent that she's obsessive. I think that she thinks about nothing else but what she's doing.
  • [1974] The Academy Awards are obscene, dirty and no better than a beauty contest.
  • [on the financial success of 'All the President's Men'] The reason for the success of this picture is that Hoffman's back and Redford's got him. It's what the public always wanted: that beautiful WASP finally wound up with a nice Jewish boy.
  • [Glancing at his Oscar for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)] He has no genitalia and he's holding a sword. I'd like to thank my mother and father for not practicing birth control.
  • [on winning the Academy Award] We are part of an artistic family.There are sixty thousand actors in the Screen Actors Guild who don't work. You have to practice accents while you're driving a taxicab 'cause when you're a broke actor you can't write and you can't paint. Most actors don't work and few of us are lucky to have a chance. And to that artistic family that strives for excellence, none of you have ever lost, and I am proud to share this with you, and I thank you.
  • [on his role of Dorothy in Tootsie (1982)] I feel cheated never being able to know what it's like to get pregnant, carry a child and breast-feed.
  • Movies are a bastard art form, period. Art, I would think, is the first day you don't start with chapter 25, then jump to the beginning, then jump to the end, and it's all set in concrete, and a script is never what the movie turns out to be. It's either better or worse, but it's a blueprint. When you're painting a picture or writing, you know as well as anyone, you have the general feeling of it but it begins to tell you where it's going. This is the first time I've ever had that opportunity. That is extraordinary. Michael Mann said he looks at the work, and it starts to influence [him]: We could go there, we could go there, we could go there. I've never had that experience before. As far as it inhabiting me, it doesn't. I don't take the character [home], I've never really understood that personally. You're pretending.
  • It's very hard to do your best work, but you want a shot at it. You cannot get a shot at doing your best work in the studio system. You can't. There's committees, there's meetings, you're on the set, you don't have to do that, they get involved in a quasi-creative way but they buck heads with people they shouldn't be bucking heads with. With HBO, once they give a go, there's no committee, no meetings. I was expecting 20 pages a day. I was expecting an atmosphere like making movies on cocaine or speed. It's the opposite. We did the best we could with as much time as we could, and came back the next day. Michael Mann hired all film directors. There was no difference between making a movie, except he used digital and three cameras, which actors love because we don't have to repeat.
  • [on his Luck (2011) character Chester "Ace" Bernstein] I think he tells the truth, and yet he's very intimidating. He's not believed. In the world that he lives in, telling the truth is the last thing they're going to believe. Paddy Chayefsky said to me many, many years ago when he was researching for The Godfather (1972), he says, "I'll take the mob any day, because if you don't keep your word, they kill you. So you keep your word. I just got to know a little bit about Hollywood. There is no moral compass because no one keeps your word because no one's going to kill them. They're just going to get sued. Give me the mafia."
  • [on learning about Santa Anita Park while making Luck (2011)] Through David Milch. David knows more about it than anything else. I shouldn't say that, because my wife [Lisa Gottsegen]'s father was a "degenerate" [a nickname for a regular gambler], and my wife went to the track with him when she was 6 years old. My wife has told me everything I have to know about the track, because as a child, she'd learn it from her father, who was a degenerate. When my wife was 5 or 6 years old, she went out to Santa Anita every day with him, and she held a piece of paper and she would look at her dad and say, "See that horse? Write down KS," and she knew that stood for "kidney sweat" [a sign of a nervous or sick horse], and that was her job for about three years.
  • [on playing a shady racetrack ex-con in Luck (2011)] I don't have a gangster phone book or anything like that. I live in a certain milieu, that's called 'Hollywood' euphemistically, in which you are are continually lied to and screwed with. I'd much rather be with the mob because, if they promise you something, they keep their word. In Hollywood nobody keeps their word. Everybody lies to you because it doesn't cost them their life. If I were more like my character I might want to kill them with my bare hands.
  • I think the most insulting thing you can do to a director is to challenge when he or she is satisfied with your interpretation.
  • [when asked by a 60 Minutes (1968) interviewer what he would like his tombstone to say] I'd like to thank my parents. Without them I couldn't have gotten this far.
  • I knew I was not going to win for The Graduate (1967). I knew that Rod Steiger was going to win for In the Heat of the Night (1967), and I knew I was not going to win for Midnight Cowboy (1969) because John Wayne was a sentimental favorite for True Grit (1969). And he won, as he should have, by the way, because I somehow feel they make more sense when they give you an award for a body of work... I actually remember walking up the aisle, and I'd had a few drinks, when I was nominated for Tootsie (1982). I was a little late getting there. Everybody was seated, and the show was just beginning, and I'm walking down the aisle and Paul Newman was on my right. He was nominated (for The Verdict (1982)) I leaned over and said to him, with three drinks in me, I whispered in his ear, "We're not gonna win." And he smiled because everyone knew Ben Kingsley was going to win for Gandhi (1982). There's never been a time, thankfully, where I thought, "Man, I think I'm gonna win this, and then I didn't."
  • [in a 2008 interview, on whether he ever googled himself] No, and it's not out of modesty. It's 'cause I don't belong in the 21st Century. I really never got far into the technology since the dial phone. It's all very tough for me. I jut block it out or whatever, but I cannot work those things without help... As we speak, I'm walking my dogs on the beach, and, lo and behold, paparazzi. I'm being interviewed while I'm being shot.
  • [on The Graduate (1967)] As far as I'm concerned, Mike Nichols did a very courageous thing casting me in a part that was not right for, meaning I was Jewish. In fact many of the reviews were negative. It was kind of veiled anti-Semitism: I was called 'big-nosed'.
  • I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation, I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.
  • [Responding to James Franco's question on Variety's Actors on Actors about his struggle at the beginning of his career] "I like William Saroyan, the writer. I read his plays when I was, like 22. And he [William Saroyan] said one line talking about his work. He was asked 'Why do you write?' He said 'because it's the only way I chose to survive'. And that was literally in front of me going through rejection year after year."
  • Well, I cowrote Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) with the writer-director [Robert Benton]. When we were done he said: I want to give you a writing credit. I said, 'No, no, Bob, that's alright'. That was always my position. It got the Academy Award - for a few things, but one of them was writing. Another one was Tootsie (1982): my friend and I cowrote the early drafts. He took credit. I didn't want to. Rain Man (1988) was another one.
  • [on the 1970s] We didn't know it was the golden age of movies when we were there.