Dustin Hoffman Talks About the Difficulties of Auditioning as a Method Actor

Young-Dustin-HoffmanIn an interview with NPR promoting his directorial debut Quartet, acting legend Dustin Hoffman talked about getting his start in acting.  Famously, Hoffman beat out other actors for his breakthrough role of Benjamin in The Graduate like Robert Redford, who far more resembled the character in the original novel.  He spoke about why method actors like himself struggled at auditions.

Hoffman points out some of the difficulties about auditioning — especially when he was younger because he didn’t fit into any easy “type.”  He explains, “If you’re a singer or a dancer and you audition, you sing, or you, you know, you play the piano, or you perform in some way. But if you’re an actor, you don’t know what that character is. We study and had studied for years and years and years with these giants of acting in those days, Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler. And there was a craft and an art to acting, and one of the conditions or the precepts were is that when you first start, you don’t do anything. You let – see what happens. And the character takes time to build, just like in painting or in writing. And so at an audition, they want the performance. And my roommate Bob Duvall used to see this, you know who gets these parts? He says, the people that what-you-see-is-what-you-get. And, in other words, what they did in the audition, they wound up doing four weeks later when the play opened, because they – you know, the directors and the producers, they want to see the character. And that’s a kind of a contradiction to what we do, you know, for a living.”

As a result, Hoffman thinks many strong actors are unsuccessful at auditioning because they simply don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing.  He says, “Unfortunately, it’s the derivative that usually gets hired. When you have an original feeling, it’s usually because you yourself are a unique person, so your questions are your questions about the character.”

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ryan-gosling-lost-river.jpg
Ryan Gosling on Using Dreams in Acting and How He Regards Bad Reviews
"That's a style of acting that's pretty popular right now, where actors use their dreams to connect whatever material they're working on." - Ryan Gosling
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Charlie-Cox-Vincent-DOnofrio-Daredevil.jpg
‘Daredevil’ Stars Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio on Working Together in the Marvel Universe
"I think it was finding how to portray Fisk in an emotional way, as well as a menacing way." - Vincent D'Onofrio on Playing the Kingpin in 'Daredevil'
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/scott-eastwood-the-longest-ride.jpg
Scott Eastwood on His Rise to Fame: “The only thing I can say is that I’ve been doing this for 12 years”
"As quick as somebody can be 'the guy' in Hollywood, he can be gone the next minute. For me, it's about doing great work" - Scott Eastwood
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/steve-coogan-happyish.jpg
Steve Coogan on Filling Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Shoes and Becoming ‘Happyish’
"This is kind of like a vacation for me. All I have to do is concentrate on the character and capture the voice.” - Steve Coogan on Happyish
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/jon-cryer-two-and-a-half-men.jpg
Jon Cryer on Why He’s Only Cast in Comedic Roles: “I’ve always felt I was kind of a ridiculous human being”
"When I get super dramatic, the urge to giggle nearly overtakes me. It’s the reason I think I haven’t been cast in science fiction" - Jon Cryer