The beloved Dustin Hoffman film 'Tootsie' -- about an actor who, after having become notoriously difficult, decides to take on a female persona in order to find work -- is often acclaimed for its comedic value. But according to Hoffman, there's far more to it than a few laughs and a love story.
The Mary Sue recently unearthed an American Film Institute archival interview with Hoffman from 2012 in which the actor reveals that the film was "never a comedy" for him and that making the movie prompted him to realize how men often unwittingly reinforce impossibly high standards of female beauty.
Hoffman told AFI that he only agreed to make "Tootsie" on the condition that he could actually pass as a woman, and required makeup tests before production began. When he first saw himself on screen in full makeup, Hoffman was satisfied that he could pass as female, but was taken aback by his appearance. "I was shocked that I wasn’t more attractive," Hoffman admitted in the same interview. "I said 'Now you have me looking like a woman, now make me beautiful.' I thought I should be beautiful if I was going to be a woman, I would want to be as beautiful as possible."
It was this impulse, and the makeup artists' insistence that they couldn't make him any more conventionally attractive, that ultimately led Hoffman to reconsider the way he treated women based on their beauty:
It was at that moment I had an epiphany, and I went home and started crying. Talking to my wife, I said I have to make this picture, and she said, "Why?" And I said, "Because I think I am an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen. And I know that if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn't fulfill physically the demands that we're brought up to think women have to have in order to ask them out." She says, "What are you saying?" And I said, "There's too many interesting women I have…not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed."
It's great to hear any man, let alone one as high profile as Dustin Hoffman, speak so openly about unfair standards of female beauty. If his impressive body of work didn't already inspire universal respect, then these thoughtful comments should seal the deal.