Dustin Hoffman Interview on 'Tootsie,' Early Career

The legendary actor revisits his early years in acting with Peter Travers.
9:29 | 02/01/13

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Transcript for Dustin Hoffman Interview on 'Tootsie,' Early Career
Congratulations by the way about -- Kennedy center -- honor. But in that commendation. At the Kennedy Center -- that use a war. I don't usually see when -- say they talked about your wide range of versatility. And then they say. Iconoclast back. Now -- look up iconoclast. See. -- -- Up against. What's an established. Form. But that would assess if I kind of classic that's definition -- -- yeah so you do I -- yes -- say yes OK I am. Yes. The first and it comes to mind when you say that is. Casting. Is maybe the most artificial. Thing that exists. For and in the acting. If you're a singer or or -- -- you politician. And you sing something or you dance -- something and people who were hiring saying yes or no. But how -- -- audition as an actor for a part that you haven't found yet. You know the better you are. That the last of of a good reading you give to brown about develops live with -- -- -- The guys it wasn't sexual well -- it's just you and Bob -- -- roommates. Well I mean we slept -- we aren't he just wanted to be known -- when I don't know you. And well I mean look -- it was a pitcher he was to catch up OK is it up. I don't know what every Gene -- into it now does it could have been a three -- going on and what was. Distracting him. But now will be on you -- -- -- I think. I'll get some -- -- No they don't so they just punch. Duval we never got any parts we right you were waiting tables for over ten years. Duval -- the postal was -- -- -- the room rates Pacman. Move furniture rooms walk ups sixth floor of putting refrigerators on -- -- we all did the same thing for ten years and we all addition. And and never got past the first -- and -- in get a call back. And Duval said what you the ones that get the -- you call them what you see is what you get. In other words what ever they did in the audition is basically what they did for weeks later. Sit in in the play there's no there's no finding a character. And it's very hard to get apart when you know you're reading and you don't you don't. You're just become it is meeting the character in the sense. So. That so that was something that that kept us back but also kept us on a line of you know we -- This is 1958596061. Is the beat generation. -- that -- we were in a culture of of artistry. And that was -- a -- -- -- and Americans attached to that but being hired was kind of selling out here. -- it's a shame we just wanna do this in our apartment yeah OK yes because you were being pure thumping of pure artist and -- Through -- so I'm so set for all three of you that you had such success is something up buckets of it. We have I think the best thing -- said was after progress was it was a feel like as as I feel like that plummeted to success. Tech graduate -- but he graduate is good because it makes it brings back -- -- You could have done Benjamin -- then. For another ten years it could have just done it instead you then do wraps up. You know nothing no no longer the romantic image of confused youth. Midnight Cowboy comes along it's a supporting part Mike Nichols affect coldly opened the -- star -- the graduate. Mrs. Clinton's chances -- -- with stone. Cause he's an ugly character he's supporting part to -- John -- pieces or what he's doing -- sabotaging. But I'd love -- I was trying to remain a character actors and that was blind desire. -- -- down one of the great classic comedies. The story behind it is always have difficulty -- yes the world as well we'll what was of the we'll for a few reasons one is is that it was my idea it was my framers Cisco and it was literally our idea from the beginning. We were teasing my father in law was -- than it was his fiftieth birthday and he was of -- -- you know he was a former boxer and he was you know meat and potatoes guy rumors it was it was a time of women's -- And was -- 1980 whatever we -- -- Come on there's a woman inside you you've got to recognize. -- There's he's. That -- you know there's a surely and said -- that was of and I called up -- the next morning and I said we've all thought the same thing. Every man I'm sure has thought what would it be like to be a woman every woman -- what -- what would be like if -- was -- -- a man. But what I'd never asked myself was how would I be different. How would you know what I have the same personality. And that began this thing that led to tootsie which -- -- my mother news. And we did make up tests. So they finally got me looking like -- woman took months and months and finally we were looking at a that it screening room and to protectionism was silent which is -- -- America. He had to know what -- -- doing sitcoms that actress and we do all we balance. I'm certain look like a woman. -- -- -- -- -- And I said to the makeup people now that you've got -- looking like a woman. A fire woman I'd wanna be beautiful make me look at how to battle at at and nodded and they said that. At this you can appreciate -- giving your beautiful -- -- -- for perfect -- that's -- and that was the beginning of the character because I realize. That. I would never -- -- approach myself at a party. And that's it smuggle -- is something tough to live with it to -- And and then I began understand -- I would be different if it was a war. What I really wanted to know was why was it difficult that when you approach this we -- 108 weeks away from shooting and we don't have a director. Now we we talk Sydney Pollack into doing it because he didn't want to -- -- comedies feel comfortable. He felt very uncomfortable -- You know this is you're going to be in drag in the audience here we aren't in the age of you know women's -- we're we're gonna get killed. And then -- schools that something which resonated -- is just tell me what this movie is out. And murders that I think it's about the man. Who becomes a better man having played in the woman. Answered -- no dummies ears perked up and he was brought -- Sydney. Rest his soul was not a collaborator. He just wasn't. Once he came in the -- started the project with more and more musical producer. He wanted me to step aside and just. Guys that I can't. So what what people don't realize is that every day he -- in his scene I've voted my version of it. And we would fight in the camper. Once we did. Find a compromise. No different than. The fis fiscal cliff and you know we're so we were more successful once we were -- It was a pleasure for both of -- brilliant director. You know wonderful atmosphere in terms of acting and never anything in front of the crew. The two of you together and that just the Russian tea room seeing -- acting. The and he got mad at me because I grabbed his balls during -- -- when he thought he -- C'mon -- -- so -- -- only if it's right for the same activity complaints even from women and put back a they don't want -- prices ices you know he's sitting next to me and -- just come out of my want to put my and other and he jumped in the movie it. There is -- sign right in front that says there's 75 years old old. You don't have to take issue. I swear to. That yet. And the next thing I thought that's even terrorists. At a certain point -- -- -- right for the property.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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