“I was a freak accident, so I got a lead that happened to be The Graduate and it was like a light switch went on and I was an instant star” – Dustin Hoffman
One of the most well respected actors of our generation, two-time Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman, says the film industry is currently the worst it has ever been, and by contrast, TV is the best it’s ever been, which is why it is currently his medium of choice.
“I think right now television is the best that it’s ever been,” he tells The Independent. “And I think that it’s the worst that film has ever been – in the 50 years that I’ve been doing it, it’s the worst.”
The actor goes on: “It’s hard to believe you can do good work for the little amount of money these days,” he says. “We did The Graduate and that film still sustains, it had a wonderful script that they spent three years on, and an exceptional director with an exceptional cast and crew, but it was a small movie, four walls and actors, that is all, and yet it was 100 days of shooting.”
Hoffman has a point. Right now, the movie industry seems to be flooded with remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, and franchise sequels. It is hard to find a truly original film that captures an audience’s imagination.
Meanwhile, the advancement of streaming channels, such as Netflix, into original programming, has paved the way for a wealth of great episodic dramas and comedies, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, to make their way into mainstream popular culture.
However, with the wealth of channels and programs offered comes the struggle for actors to be recognized. Most actors currently considered to be at the top of the game have tales to tell of their struggle to the top but for Hoffman, the chance to be a star came about almost by accident.
“I was a freak accident, so I got a lead that happened to be The Graduate and it was like a light switch went on and I was an instant star,” he reveals. “For most actors you start by playing euphemistically called supporting roles, it’s not even the supporting role it’s less than that, and if you are lucky you build up to supporting roles and then to starring roles – and then you reach a certain age, and unfortunately women usually reach it earlier, and you are no longer the leading man, therefore you become the supporting actor, which many times is the mentor of the lead. That is full circle.”
As for future projects, Hoffman says he is still looking for directing work after his debut which was in 2012 on the film Quartet.
“I’m looking at everything that comes to me, I’m not getting much as far as directing is concerned,” he says. “I don’t think that has anything to do with whether you are good or not, it’s just about whether your films make money or not.”
Hoffman is currently starring in The Choir, alongside Kathy Bates, Debra Winger, Eddie Izzard and Kevin McHale. He plays Carvelle, a tough conductor of a boy’s choir who finds himself serving as mentor to a young boy named Stet. Another music based film, Hoffman himself says he would really rather have become a professional piano player than an actor.
“I love it more than anything. But I can’t play well enough to make a living out of it. If God tapped me on the shoulder right now and said ‘no more acting, no more directing, but you can be a decent jazz pianist’ … I could never read music gracefully. I don’t have a good ear. I still want to do it. I would love to do it.”