In “Tootsie,” Dustin Hoffman plays a comedian who cross-dresses and poses as an actress. A film that would have allowed him to completely change his view of women, as he explained with emotion during an interview for the American Film Institute.
Tootsie : an actor in the role of a woman
After trying his hand at drama (Prohibited property), western (Jeremiah Johnson) or the paranoid thriller (The Three Days of the Condor), Sidney Pollack made his first comedy in 1982 with Tootsie. A feature film with which Dustin Hoffman finds two of his most famous roles. The first is that of Michael Dorsey, a perfectionist New York actor struggling to find work.
Following a falling out with his agent George Fields (Sidney Pollack), he is determined to prove he can play anything. For that, he cross-dresses and becomes Dorothy Michaelslanding in stride a role in a soap opera. On the set, Dorothy befriends Julie Nichols (Jessica Lange, winner of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress). Michael gradually falls in love with his on-screen partnerbut does not dare reveal to him that Dorothy is not his true identity.
Teri Garr, Charles Durning, Geena Davis and Bill Murray complete the cast of the cult film, on which Dustin Hoffman worked for several years with screenwriter Murray Schisgal before filming began, as he explains in an interview for the American Film Institute. The actor also reveals that this project upset him.
An important role for Dustin Hoffman
During this interview, Dustin Hoffman assures tears in his eyes having changed his view of women thanks to Tootsieafter doing her very first costume and make-up tests to convince the Columbia studio to produce the feature film:
I had an epiphany…I came home and cried talking to my wife. And I said to him: ‘I have to make this film’. She said to me: ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Because I think I’m an interesting woman when I see myself on screen. I know that if I met at a party, I wouldn’t talk to this character, because she doesn’t physically meet the criteria that, according to our upbringing, a woman must meet to be invited.
She said: ‘What are you talking about?’ I replied, ‘There are too many interesting women I haven’t gotten to know in my life because I’ve been brainwashed.’ For me, Tootsie was never a comedy.
However, in 2017, Dustin Hoffman is the subject charges of sexual assault on a minor, rape and harassment. While the writer Anna Graham Hunter accuses him of sexual assault on a minor for facts which would have occurred in 1985, the actor declares in an editorial published by the HollywoodReporter :
I have the greatest respect for women and I am deeply sorry that what I have done has put her in an uncomfortable situation. I’m sorry. It does not correspond to who I am.
Shortly after, while three other women testify against the actor with variety for similar facts, his lawyer claims that these new allegations are “defamatory lies”.
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Tootsie: When Dustin Hoffman Was Overwhelmed With Emotion When Talking About The Movie