Let’s begin by saying Dustin Hoffman seems like an asshole. An answer on the Q&A website Quora talked about how Hoffman harassed co-star Meryl Streep, to get emotional reactions out of her for the 1979 film ‘Kramer Vs Kramer’. Both actors won Oscars for their roles in the movie.
If you try to read up a little bit more about the duo, turns out – Streep herself had called him an ‘obnoxious pig’ in an interview, even though she chose to forgive him. Here’s an excerpt from an UK-based publication on the old interview –
The interview, which appeared in a 1979 issue of Time Magazine, saw Streep recount her first meeting with the actor whom she starred opposite in Kramer vs. Kramer.
“He came up to me and said, ‘I’m Dustin – burp – Hoffman,’ and he put his hand on my breast,” Slate reports the interview as saying.
“What an obnoxious pig, I thought.”
A representative for Streep has since told E! News that the interview was “not an accurate rendering of that meeting,“ adding: “There was an offence and it is something for which Dustin apologized. And Meryl accepted that.”Excerpt from an Article by ‘Independent’
Clearly that was a different era, when it was apparently okay for a big star to act like a jerk and the woman to ‘forgive’ him. Fine. But reading all of this made me curious about just what her role was all about. Because Hoffman reportedly would taunt Streep about her recently deceased boyfriend on the set, to make her look genuinely distressed in her scenes.
Directed by Robert Benton, the film follows Ted Kramer (Hoffman), a young workaholic whose wife leaves him and their 6-year-old son Billie, to find her own calling. Kramer suddenly find himself in the role of the primary caregiver and despite initial hiccups, becomes a doting father. After over a year of being a single father, he finds himself locked in a custody battle with the wife, where the odds are stacked against him.
Streep has a supporting role, and doesn’t appear for more than 15 minutes in the movie. The first-half is on the slower side and at one point almost feels like a one-man movie, with all the spotlight on Mr Hero Hoffman. Justin Henry plays Billie, and is a dear as the lost little boy who wants his mother back. While the father-son duo struggle at first, they eventually figure out their own rhythm. The courtroom drama was a lot briefer than I expected, but was an interesting display of how courts always favor mothers when it comes to custody battles. The climax was heart-warming and it’s laudable how the mother is not demonized for choosing a career over family, since apparently the novel the film is based on did just that. The platonic friendship Ted shares with his neighbor Margaret (Jane Alexander), who helps him navigate through his new role of a single dad, was also also brilliantly done.
Even though I wasn’t psyched about seeing Hoffman in the role, he is really good in the part, and will have a lot of viewers tearing up by the end. Clearly a great example of how actors are nothing like their characters and the audience shouldn’t mix their onscreen and off-screen personalities. And as far as Streep’s performance is concerned, she is impeccable, and not a shred of credit should go to Hoffman’s non-sensical ‘method-acting’. Most Gen-Y yuppies wouldn’t even know who he is. But Meryl Streep? We all know her, love her and the years have proven that she would’ve have probably gotten that Oscar without having to bear the emotional trauma of having a dick for a colleague, who mocked her dead boyfriend as part of his acting routine.
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