Dustin Hoffman discusses Tootsie, sexism, and brainwashing

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A video of a 2012 interview with Dustin Hoffman has gone viral, garnering nearly 5 million views.

The video, in which Hoffman discusses his part playing a man posing as a woman in the 1982 film Tootsie, is a tribute to women everywhere and essentially, an apology for being “brainwashed” into sexism and womanizing.

Tootsie was a comedy film hit back in 1982 about an actor who cross-dresses in order to receive more roles in show business. The male character goes by the identity of a woman named Dorothy Michaels, and ends up landing a part as an actress on a soap opera. But Hoffman has a very different opinion of the quirky, lighthearted film than most audiences.

Hoffman explains that he told make-up artists he did not want to do the film unless he could really pass as a woman.

“Unless I could walk down the streets of New York… dressed as a woman… and not have people turn and say ‘Who’s that guy in drag?’ or turn for any reason, you know, ‘Who’s that freak?’ Unless I could do that, I didn’t want to make the film.”

After Hoffman saw himself on screen, he was upset to see he was not “more attractive” and told make-up artists that, though he looked like a woman, he wanted them to make him a beautiful woman.

“I thought, ‘I should be beautiful.’ If I was going to be a woman, I would want to be as beautiful as possible.” The pressure for women to be beautiful is an issue that women face every day, especially transgender women, who have the added pressure of needing to pass a certain set of standards in order to be accepted.

After Hoffman was told that he was “as beautiful as he was going to get,” he had an epiphany. He returned home to his wife and began to cry.

Hoffman explained to his wife that he had to make the film.

When she asked why, Hoffman said “Because I think I’m an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen. And I know if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she does not, physically, meet the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out…”

At this point in the video, Hoffman begins to tear and choke up.

“There are too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed…”

Hoffman laments, “That was never a comedy for me.”

429Magazine

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