John Sandilands


Interview with Dustin Hoffman, Los Angeles Times, 1968

Dustin Hoffman - Immediate Star

Sandilands is a London writer and frequent contributor to Nova Magazine, now on a trip to New York and the West Coast.

The 5 foot 6 inch frame of Dustin Hoffman is scarcely the ideal location for a Homeric struggle. His head is moulded on heroic lines with its wide brow and noble nose, but thereafter he is constructed like a comedian: his arms and legs are short and tense and his posture perky as though he is permanently preparing to deliver a funny routine.

Behind the tired sports jacket and concertina jeans that constitute his formal business apparel, however, a momentous battle is going on. Hoffman is fighting for nothing less than his values, or so he says in that depleted voice that wells somewhere deep in his thorax and emerges reluctantly down that imposing nose.

Hoffman’s values are under assault in New York City, which I judge to he some of the worst terrain in the world for defending things like that, and there is no doubt that he is being hard pressed at this time.

“If I pass a group of people on the street,” he says, ‘‘I can usually count three before I hear it: eeeeeee!” He is not exaggerating. We walked down the street together in Manhattan and though nobody threw ticker tape from tall buildings it was a pretty majestic progression for such a small man.

This kind of success is what has caused Hoffman to consider his values so closely because he says that it is not entirely what he was after when “The Graduate” made him an immediate star.

“Look,” he said, “I was very happy before “The Graduate.” I was doing some work off Broadway and laying down some kind of foundation as a character actor when this picture came along and changed everything professionally. Now I have the fear that what has followed will change me as a person and I am really very happy the way I am.”

He was in the back of a chauffeur-driven Cadillac now, hunched down in the corner and looking excessively doleful as if he had recently been caught in public without his trousers on.

“About all you can do is to try to keep your feet on the ground and proclaim yourself as an actor, You have to pope that some people will believe you and will stop trying to turn you into a fantasy figure:” .

The predicament of one in danger of being swamped by riches and celebrity does not arouse immediate sympathy. The notion of a highly paid star professing his preference for the truths of his art is not entirely new. Somehow Hoffman overcomes uncharitable mutterings of this nature. He is eminently believable as a potentially fine character actor suddenly barred forever from the comfort of a false moustache.

“I still have the friends I had before The Graduate.” he said, “I go to the same places and I try to lead the same kind of life in spite of people ringing me up to jet over to somewhere and meet up with the Burtons or something like that. I really don’t want to see my name in print after having shown up someplace the night before.

Hoffman treats this aspect of the phenomenon that has overtaken him with strange calm. “It happened so suddenly that my name is still in the telephone book,” he explains calmly. They know where to find me so they come around. They’re very nice and polite and they do no harm.”

The Cadillac had now drawn up at the foot of the glass mountain which houses his new and high powered personal manager. Watching him stumping towards the lift; short and narrow -shouldered, leaning forward a little in his peculiar silent-movie walk, it was possible to wonder if there were not,  perhaps, some compensations for a sudden onrush of stardom.

He sat down in a deep chair in his manager’s office, curling up in a position only slightly sub-foetal and permitted himself his small, triangular smile. “I was waiting for a cab just recently at a very busy time and when one came along I was just beaten to it by a very pretty girl. I asked her if she would split it with me and she said yes. I guess she wouldn’t have done that if it had not been for Benjamin but more importantly I wouldn’t have asked her.”

Dustin Hoffman nibbled at finger nails already well chewed and considered that concession to the primrose path.


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List of John Sandilands articles

John Sandilands

John Sandilands Articles

  1. Obituary, March 2004 >>
  2. Introduction to Articles >>
  3. Article2 >>
  4. When the cure is sun, sea and mud >>
  5. Interview with Ava Gardner >>
  6. Interview with Dustin Hoffman, Los Angeles Times, 1968 >>
  7. Fiji >>
  8. Patrick Moore >>
  9. Mr Pastry >>
  10. Interview with Jane Fonda >>
  11. letters to and from John to editors >>
  12. Ballooning >>
  13. The Toad Cross Code >>
  14. Peter Sellers; that is the problem >>
  15. In bed with John Sandilands plus Jilly Cooper, Zandra Rhodes and Peter Cook >>
  16. Know the Type >>
  17. Animal poems >>
  18. The Toad Cross Code >>
  19. Albert and the Jaguars >>
  20. Herogram >>