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/2017/11/Linnea-Berthelsen-Stranger-Things.jpg
Linnea Berthelse on Her ‘Stranger Things’ Audition and Keeping Her Role a Secret for a Year
“Sometimes when actors don’t get the part, it’s not always about an actor being a bad actor; it’s about connecting to the material.” – Linnea Berthelsen Stranger Things is back on our screens with its second season, something fans have been waiting for ever since season one arrived on Netflix in 2016. Returning to the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/jonathan-groff-hamilton.jpg
Jonathan Groff on Playing King George III in ‘Hamilton’: “I rehearsed for about a day, and then went into the show”
Can you even imagine stepping into a role in one of the biggest Broadway hits of all time with barely any time to prepare?
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/lina-esco-swat.jpg
Lina Esco on Playing the Only Female Officer on ‘S.W.AT.’: “I have to portray her as someone equal to all of the guys on her team”
"The important thing for me when I read scripts is how much respect I have for the character and how far I can take her" - Lina Esco
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/sam-rockwell-three-billboards.jpg
Sam Rockwell on Typecasting and One of His Worst Auditions
"I’m kind of a workhorse. It takes a toll" - Sam Rockwell
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/rachel-bloom-crazy-ex-girlfriend.jpg
Rachel Bloom: “The way that I learned comedy was not rigid, but this very specific technique taught by the Upright Citizens Brigade”
"I went from being a person who was doing moderately successful videos online and working as a moderately successful TV writer and aspiring to do this to having a Golden Globe." - Rachel Bloom