Feb 24, 2014
08:48 AMArts & Entertainment
Dustin Hoffman Talks Acting in Fairfield, Where He's Filming 'Boychoir'
Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman, left, and director François Girard on stage at Fairfield University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts in Fairfield on Thursday.
“I was a failure growing up, from A to Z,” Dustin Hoffman told a capacity audience at Fairfield University’s Quick Center for the Arts last Thursday evening. “That was my background, and then this ‘Graduate’ thing came along. It was a freak accident.”
Hoffman said he took an acting class at Santa Monica City College because he was told, “It’s three credits and nobody flunks it.” But he was kicked out of school after his freshman year because the rest of his grades were so bad.
Hoffman discussed his acting career, and the movie he will begin shooting next week at the university, during “An Award-Winning Conversation with Dustin Hoffman and François Girard.” Girard is directing the independent film, “Boychoir.”
After his early “failure,” Hoffman’s prospects decidedly improved. He has performed in television, theatre and, most notably, film, including starring roles in “The Graduate,” “Tootsie,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “Meet the Fockers” and “Wag the Dog.” He has been nominated for seven Academy Awards and won two, for “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Rain Man.” He also earned six Golden Globes, the 1999 American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. In 2012, Hoffman directed the film “Quartet.”
Hoffman, who has a reputation for being “difficult” because of the intensity he brings to preparing for his roles, engaged in a stream-of-consciousness conversation with Girard and the program’s moderator, Professor Philip Eliasoph, pretty much ignoring the moderator’s attempts to keep the discussion on a formal plane.
“Oh, I’ve got another story,” Hoffman exclaimed several times during the two-hour program.
The audience, which packed the 740-seat theater, was comprised of university students, faculty members, and Town of Fairfield residents who were offered free tickets through a random drawing as part of the 375th anniversary celebration of the founding of Fairfield.
“How do you make it as an actor? Wait tables for 12 years,” Hoffman said in discussing the beginning of his career. “Do not go into acting and expect to make a living. Do not go into acting and expect it not to drive you crazy.”
Hoffman said he was watching the Olympics women’s skating event Thursday morning and was struck by the observation that a decade or more of training and preparation by the skaters comes down to a few minutes of competition.
“After all that preparation, one mistake can doom them,” Hoffman said. “But playing it safe can doom them.”