If you’re in the mood this morning to have your faith in men and celebrities and humanity and everything in general restored, have I got the video for you! An AFI interview has been making the rounds online that features Dustin Hoffman discussing one of his most well-known films, Tootsie, in which he plays an actor who disguises himself as a woman to get a role. Typically people think of this film as a classic light-hearted comedy, but Hoffman explains that “it was never a comedy for me.” His explanation brings him to tears, and if you’re anything like me, it’ll bring you to tears, too. Tears or no tears, it’s an absolutely lovely way to start the day.
Hoffman explains that he never wanted to look like an obvious man in drag but rather that he could actually pass for a woman. Otherwise he didn’t want to make the film. He then explains that when he first saw himself in the costume and makeup, he asked to be made a more beautiful woman, but he was told “that’s as beautiful as we can get you.”
Hoffman then says he had an epiphany and declared to his wife that he must make this movie because he realized that even though he saw himself as an interesting woman, he would never talk to such a woman at a party because she didn’t meet the standard conventions of attractiveness. This next part is where Hoffman and I both teared up:
“There’s too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.”
It’s so lovely to see a man who’s able to acknowledge that women are held to such unreasonable standards of conventional beauty and are so often overlooked because they don’t fit into a certain mold that society has dictated for them. It’s particularly lovely because it comes from a man in the entertainment business, where these standards of beauty are constantly fostered and perpetuated. For Hoffman to see such an important and eye-opening message in what could otherwise be written off as a silly comedy about a guy in drag is wonderful. He phrased the issue so eloquently that I feel like anything I say to comment on it really couldn’t do it justice, because it just speaks for itself. I was already as much a fan of Dustin Hoffman’s acting career as anyone, but now I can say I’m an even bigger fan of him as a person. We need more people speaking out about these issues in the entertainment industry, particularly men.