Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie

Columbia Pictures

Dustin Hoffman learned quite the life lesson 30 years ago.

In an interview he gave to the American Film Institute back in December, which is apparently gaining more attention now because it's awesome, the Oscar winner gets emotional recalling how it felt when he found out that hair and makeup could only do so much when it came to turning him into a believable member of the fairer sex for the 1982 comedy Tootsie.

"I somehow intuitively felt that, unless I could walk down the streets of New York and not have people turn and say, 'Who's that guy in drag?' or turn for any reason—Who's that freak?'—unless I could do that I couldn't make the film," Hoffman, 75, explained.

"I didn't want the audience to suspend their believability...When we got to that point and looked onscreen, I was shocked that I wasn't more attractive!

"I said, 'Now you have me looking like a woman. Now make me a beautiful woman!' Because I thought I should be beautiful. If I was going to be a woman, I would want to be as beautiful as possible."

But then reality set in.

"And they said to me, 'That's as good as it gets. That's as beautiful as we can get ya, Charlie," Hoffman said, getting misty-eyed.


"It was at that moment that I had an epiphany, and I went home and started crying, talking to my wife," said the star, who won Best Actor Oscars for Kramer vs. Kramer in 1980 and Rain Man in 1989. "And I said, 'I have to make this picture.' And she said, 'Why?' And I said, 'Because I think I'm an interesting woman when I look at myself onscreen. And I know if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn't fulfill physically the demands that we're brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out."

"And I said," in response to his wife's request for clarification, "'There's too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.'"

About Tootsie, which AFI ranked its No. 2 comedy of all time behind only Some Like It Hot and is No. 62 on its list of the top 100 movies of all time, Hoffman reveals: "That was never a comedy for me."

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