Dustin Hoffman

  1. Kenneth Mars,  The Producers, 1968.     “I was told I was a character juvenile That’s the code. You’re the funny-looking Jew that’s alongside Robert Redford.” Mel Brooks was keen on Hoffman for Zero Mostel’s partner, Bloom. “Dusty” preferred Franz Liebkind, the  “unreconstructed Nazi” author of the Springtime For Hitler show, “a gay romp with Adolph and Eva  in Berchtesgarten”  –  the perfect Broadway flop to make the producers more money than a hit.  Then, Hoffman had to test for The Graduate.  “Go ahead,” said Mel, “at least you’ll meet my wife [Anne Bancroft],  she’s going to  seduce you in it. But you won’t get it because you’re an ugly little rat.” Hoffman called back:  “I’m working with  the family  –  with Anne not you.”   As Hoffman had  signed a contract,  Brooks  could have ”bollixed up” The Graduate.   Instead, “Melvy” told, him: “You’re going to be playing opposite my wife – don’t fool around.”
  2. Paul Newman, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, 1969.      I’m ridin’ here!
  3. Bob Balaban, Catch 22, 1969.  After their Graduate triumph, Hoffman naturally, wanted to work again with director Mike Nichols, so he read the Joseph Heller’s novel and hungered after the central role of Yossarin.  He was hurt when Arkin had announced.  “Well, he’s perfect, but why didn’t he ask me?” OK, he’d love to be Milo Minderbender – but that went to his Midnight Cowboy, Jon Voight. Finally, Nichols offered Captain Orr – described by Heller as “a warm-hearted, simple-minded gnome.” Hoffman. was devastated: “This is nothing!”  He refused and admits if he had his time over, yada, yada. But I didn’t think I could do anything with the part. And that may  have affected our relationship.  I remember seering Carnal; Knowledge and thinking: Why didn’t he ask me to do that?”
  4. Jack Nicholson, Five Easy Pieces, 1970.    He could hardly have been a  better Bobby Dupea, but was more keen on an upcoming stage revue, All Over Town. “Didn’t think I was right for the movies, didn’t like the hoo-ha.”
  5. Elliott Gould, Beröringen/The Touch, Sweden-US, 1971.    Yes, he turned down Ingmar Bergman. (Not to mention Bibi Andersson and Max von Sydow). “My  first wife was pregnant and didn’t want to leave her obstetrician in New York to go to Sweden Oh. I’ve always had great rationalisations. They rarely are the truth.”
  6. Marlon Brando, The Godfather,  1971.
  7. Woody Allen, Play It Again, Sam, 1971.    The suits wanted Hoffman as Allen Felix, the  neurotic film critic with a Bogart  complex – played by Woody on Broadway.  Woody preferred Benjamin (who’d d been in the play and became Woody’s alter ego in Deconstructing Harry, 1996.  With Mrs B, Paula Prentiss,  for Linda.    But then Bananas was such a surprise success that Paramount agreed to all the stage stars: Woody, Diane, Tony Roberts and Jerry Lacy (as Bogie),
  8. George Segal, A Touch of Class, 1973.     Hoffman-Sophia Loren became Segal-Glenda Jackson. “We were an off-the-wall, unexpected  couple,” Segal told me in Paris. “I’d seen her in the Elizabeth series, so I knew she could act and Mel Frank [writer-producer-director] had seen her on a Morecambe & Wise TV show, singing and dancing – so he put us together. “
  9. John Huston, Chinatown, 1974.     Robert Towne wrote it for Jack Nicholson and Hoffman.  “I’ve turned down some wonderful projects.”
  10. Donald Sutherland, The Day of the Locust, 1974.   Hoffman  had already worked with UK director John Schlesinger on, 1968,  and would again on, 1976.  Just. Not. This. Time.

  11. Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1975.
  12. James Caan, Funny Lady, 1975.    Producer Ray Stark always thinks big.  “Look, I started acting 12 years before The Graduate came along and made me an instant star. After that, I got scripts sent to me daily, whereas before I had none sent to me, and I just said no.”
  13. Al  Pacino,  Dog Day Afternoon,  1975.    “I quit once,” said Al. “I was  the original one, and then Dustin, then it went back to me.  I had just done Godfather II  and was tired of film. I found it a battle.”  Hoffman v Pacino would continue for 20 years or more.
  14. Robert De Niro, The Last Tycoon, 1975. Mike Nichols was so keen on Hoffman for the titular Monroe Stahr that he quit when producer Sam Spiegel signed De Niro. Screenwriter Harold Pinter had not taken kindly to Hoffman insisting that Pinter come to see him at the Dorchester and not vice-versa. Pinter sent him a cable: “Sorry unable to accept royal command to visit you at your hotel. Ring, if you feel like it.” And this upset Hoffman… (It’s like a 2001 Larry David-Jason Alexander episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm!). When he tried turning director with Straight Time in 1977, Hoffman sigend up the Tycoon find, Theresa Russell, as his co-star.
  15. Stuart Margolin, Lanigan’s Rabbi, TV, 1976.     Various projects fell into aspic as Hoffman planned  his first production for First Artists: a film and TV series from Harry Kemelman’s books about rabbi-cum-tec David Small, working with Police Chief Paul Lanigan in Cameron, California.  He passed  the piot to Margolin and was not connected with the five episode series (starring Bruce  Solomon). Instead, and with  the same director,  pal, Ulu Grosbard, Hoffman became a paroled ex-con in  Straight Time, 1977.  
  16. Donald Sutherland, Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (US: Fellini’s Casanova),  Italy, 1976.     He refused Fellini  (thrice!) – and the great Italian director  stuck to Sutherland because “he’s a sperm-filled waxwork with the eyes of a masturbator! “
  17. David Carradine, Bound For Glory, 1976.    “Yes, I’ll do it but I want three months to rest and three months to learn to play the guitar  better.” Too long. So was Carradine. Far too tall. But he played guitar.

  18. Richard Dreyfuss, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1976. 
    For once, Spielberg felt he needed an A star: Hackman, Hoffman or McQueen.  Julia Phillips (one of the eleven producers!)) also sent scripts to Nicholson and Pacino. They all passed. Next, James Caan wanted $1m plus points.. And so it was Dreyfuss – as it always had been since Spielberg told him  the story while making Jaws.      “Spielberg says I’ve turned him down more than any other actor,” said Hoffman.  “He  sent me three or four films [five!]  which I turned down… [for] very silly reasons that I regret now.” He did, however make Hook – often called Steven Spielberg’s Revenge.  On almost everybody. “I just finally had to say yes! I’m glad I did it.”

  19. Peter Falk, The Brinks Job, 1977.      Suddenly keen on bank heists, Hoffman  shuffled between a biopic of   “Slick” Willie Sutton, who robbed more than a hundred banks between the 1920s-50s. (never firing his weapon) and this comedy about the legendary – and quite farcical – Boston robbery, January 17, 1950.
  20. David Carradine, Das Schlangenei/The Serpent’s Egg, 1977.     The Touch had not worked that well with Elliott Gould, 1971, so Hollywoodians seemed wary of  working with such a master as the extraordinary  Swedish regissor Ingmar Bergman.  Carradine was afraid of nothing and nobody. 

  21. Richard Dreyfuss, The Goodbye Girl, 1977.  Hoffman was hurt when his Graduate director Mike Nichols didn’t want him for Catch 22 and Carnal; Knowledge. All he offered was what was then Gable (then Bogart) Slept Here.  “But,” said Marsha Mason, the co-star and wife of the scenarist-playwright Neil Sjmon, “he took so  long to respond that we moved on”… to Robert De Niro. He’d finished Taxi Driver over the weekend and showed up on Monday for Bogart… and he was still Travis Bickle. Totally lost in a rom-com! Dreyfuss was called in. Nichols and Simon started creative differences, “which are creative differences,” said Mason, “nothing personal.”  Howard Zeiff took over when Nichols quit – the most liberating action of his life. He didn’t film again until “Meryl woke me up: for Silkwood” eight years later.  Rather like De Niro, Meryl started Silkwood immediately after Sophie’s Choice – but she managed  the leap.
  22. Robert Powell, Jesus of Nazareth, TV,1977.     Italian stage, screen and now TV  director Franco Zeffirelli’s first choice.  The second was “my nemesis” – as Hoffman called  – guess who? – Al Pacino.
  23.  Ian McShane, Jesus of Nazareth, TV,1977.    So how about Judas?” No!
  24. Keith Carradine, Pretty Baby, 1977.  The plot sickens… A prostitute allows her 12-year-old  daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light district of  New Orleans, circa 1917. French director Louis Malle saw 29 hopefuls and/or instant (parental) refusals for pretty  little Violet… 15 actresses for her mother… and 19 guys for for the real life, misshapen, hydrocephallic photographer Ernest J. Bellocq, whose Storyville work of the epoch influenced the style of the surprisingly elegant film. Oskar Werner talked himself out of it. “Has to be an American actor,” he told Malle. That’s how Robert Redford was first choice, Jack Nicholson second..  Then before falling for  KeithCarradine, Malle saw Jeff Bridges, Albert Brooks, James Caan, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood (he didn’t take up photography until The Bridges of Madison County, 1994),  the new in town Mel Gibson, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve (about to make us believe a man could fly), future director Rob Reiner, John Travolta (more into Grease)… Plus one sole  Brit, Malcolm McDowell .and such  flat out surprises as Joe Pesci(!!), Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone  (prepping FIST), and even Christopher Walken.
  25. Jon Voight, Coming Home, 1978.     After British director John Schlesinger quit (Jack Nicholson went with him), Hoffman was approached. As always. He was tied up on another film.
  26. Richard Gere, Days of Heaven, 1978.    For his second film, the far from prolific director, Terrence Malick, had no luck in winning Hoffman  or  – guess who? – Pacino.  It would be  20 years before Malick’s third film.
  27. Gene Hackman, Superman, 1978.
  28. Burt Reynolds, Starting Over, 1979.    US director Alan J Pakula tried to interest either branch of his “Woodstein” from All The President’s Men, 1976 – Hoffman or Robert Redford.

  29. Marcello Mastroianni, La Citta delle donne/City of Women, Italy-France, 1980.   
    “I love Fellini…  and I turned him down.” Why? “That’s a question I’d ask myself in later years. There is a reason…” Federico Fellini, as per usual,  wanted the cast to dub the film and Hoffman had bad memories of this tradition during Alfredo, Alfredo,1972. “Maestro,” he said, “I’ll do the film for nothing, I will pay you to use the original sound.”  Neither could work in the other’s fashion. Hoffman said 24 years later: “I still deplore my stupidity. My biggest regret…  But not one of his best films.” 

  30. Robin Williams, Popeye, 1980.    Beaten to Annie, producer Robert Evans put his shirt bet on another comic-strip. Hoffman loved the first 50 pages of Jules Feiffer’s Sweethaven saga. “He kept comparing my script to The Graduate, to Samuel Beckett, to Kafka…Of course, by the time I submitted the finished first draft, Dustin wanted me fired!” Evans refused. “He couldn’t believe that I stayed with Jules rather than him. But I believed Jules was right. He’d worked on it for a year and  I didn’t want to star-fuck… You don’t need a star. Anyonecan play it.  For crissakes, we could use…  Robin Williams!”  And, alone in Hollywood, Evans had never seen Mork and Mindyon TV.  On hearing Jerry Lewis might direct, Feiffer said: “I’d rather kill myself.” (Hoffman’s Olive Oyl would have been Lily Tomlin; they finally joined up as a double act of existential detectives in I Heart Huckabees, 2004).
  31. John Savage, Inside Moves, 1980.     For his first post-Superman film, director Richard Donner almost landed Hoffman. “Dustin felt it too close to Ratso in Midnight Cowboy…  John Savage was just brilliant.”
  32. André Gregory, My Dinner With André, 1980.     There was a moment  – or ten – when Paris auteur Louis Malle wondered what he had got himself into – and, for him, so rapidly.  He’d met Wallace Shawn photocopying a 500-page script and now Malle  was about to make a movie of it. Of  two men doing nothing but talking for 111 minutes. And neither one an actor. “Perhaps,” he told playwrights Shawn and Gregory, “we should give your roles to Hoffman and Redford.” He was not joking. Nor when he added: ”I don’t know how to do this but we will do it.”
  33. John Heard, Cutter’s Way, 1980.    After buying Newton Thornburg’s novel, Cutter and Bone, producer Paul Gurian set up a deal for Robert Mulligan to direct Hoffman as Alex Cutter. Then, schedules clashed and the project passed from EMI to UA, with Czech director Ivan Passer… who later complained: “UA murdered the film. Or, at least, they tried to murder it.”
  34. Christopher Reeve, Somewhere In Time, 1981.     Reeve’s agent and manager  urged him to refuse  (and  not just due to a reduced fee), but Superman wanted to “escape the cape.” And, hey, hadn’t that guy Hoffman had been keen on it..?
  35. John  Belushi,  Continental  Divide,  1981.  Avoiding Spielberg again…  Before simply producing, Spielberg planned to direct Hoffman or Elliott Gould. “Before I even thought about acting, “ recalled Hofman, “I saw Rebel Without A Cause and I wanted to be James Dean. Brando was the icon. You had to be an idiot to think you could be Brando. Dean, you could buy a red jacket and look in the mirror.  In the second year of acting class, I said to myself if I looked like James Dean, I could make it; that’s the only thing stopping me.”
  36. Michael Caine, The Hand, 1981.     Both Midnight Cowboys, Voight and Hoffman, and then Christopher Walken refused the horror that was… Oliver Stone’s  helming debut.

  37. Harrison Ford, Blade Runner, 1981. 
    Hoffman  never understood why he’d been first choice for such a macho character. In a script-session (lasting a full six hours) with Ridley  Scott and writer Hampton Fincher,  Hoffman was “candid in acknowledging that he wouldn’t be accepted as this hero.”  Hoffman, being Hoffman, wanted to make Deckard  into a whole different person.  Whoops!  “I’m outa here,” said Fincher. UK wiz Ridley Scott stayed, spending s a long time sniffing out the perfect Deckard.  From other top notchers Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Gwene Hackman, Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino…  to such excellent journeymen as William Devane, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Frederic  Forrest, Scott Glenn, Cliff Gorman, Tommy Lee Jones, Raul Julia, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken. Then, in sheer desperation, choices lowered to Cliff Gorman, Judd Hirsch.  Even the Virginian Morgan Paull stood  a chance, having played Deckard in Scott’s tests of potential Rachaels. (He was given Holden for his pains). Plus Arnold Schwarzenegger, not yet seen as Conan, much less Terminator. And for probably the last time in such an illustrious list,  the fading star of Burt Reynolds.

  38. Sylvester Stallone, First Blood (aka Rambo), 1981.
  39. Alan Arkin, The Last Unicorn, 1981.   Hoffman and the Star Wars stars,  Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill,  were the mixed bag (and ages) to voice the not-so-magic magician Schmendrick. The word derives from the Yiddish slang, schlemiel, or unlucky bungler. .  The book’s author, Peter S Beagle, also penned the scenario.
  40. James Woods, Once Upon a Time in America, 1982.   After his epic about the West, Sergio Leone planned another on the East – based on The Hoods, “an autobiographical account” of New York Jewish gangster Harry Goldberg. He wrote it in Sing Sing prison as Harry Grey. Leone thought he resembled Edward G Robinson.  Harry probably agreed. He certainly used “a repertoire of cinematic citations, of gestures and words seen and heard thousands of times on the big screen…” But then, so did Leone with a 400 page script packed with echoes of Angels with Dirty Faces, Bullets or Ballots, Dead End, High Sierra, Little Cesar andWhite Heat. In October 1975, he even fancied the elderly James Cagney and Jean Gabin as the older Noodles and Max – the younger beingGérardDepardieu and Richard Dreyfuss. The maestrointerviewed “over 3,000 actors,” taping 500 auditions for the 110 speaking roles. Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino passed on Noodles. In 1980, Tom Berenger and Paul Newman were up for Noodles (young andold) with either Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Harvey Keitel, John Malkovich or Jon Voight as Max, then Joe Pesci (he became Frankie, instead) and James Woods was Max. And Scott Tiler and Rusty Jacobs were the young Noodles and Max in the three hours-49 minutes unfurled at the ’84 Cannes festival… instead of Leone’s aim: two three-hour movies.

  41. Robin Williams,  The  World According To  Garp,  1982.    “If there’s another film you don’t want  to do, Dustin, just tell me and I’ll be there.”  There was  – in ’89 – before they joined forces for Steven Spielberg’s Hook, 1991.

  42. Ben Kingsley, Gandhi, 1982.      Dustin was keen and worked hard on seducing British director Richard Attenborough –  before falling for (and ruling) Tootsie. In that year’s Oscar battle, Kingsley won.

  43. Paul Newman, The Verdict, 1982.  New Yorker Sidney Lumet helming a David Mamet script?  Of course, he was interested. However, the loser lawyer was more of a  surprise from Newman than it would have been from Hoffman. Watching it in 2019  for the 100th time, George Clooney said:   “That is a proper big-time, world-class movie star saying to the world: ‘I’m a character actor now.’ He busted his ass. And you couldn’t make that as a film now. Not like that. The films that you used to get – Three Days of the Condor and those kind of films – you couldn’t make now. Even Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid would be hard to make, because the guys die in it.

  44.  Freddie Jones, E la nave va,  Italy, 1983.     And The Ship Sails On without him… after refusing Federico  Fellini for the third and final time.           
  45. William  Hurt,  Gorky  Park, 1983.    Not surprisingly, Dustin Hoffman and his usual shadow, Al Pacino (but also Robert Redford!) were offered the Russian whodunnit from the first of Martin Cruz Smith’s nine books about the Soviet  Sherlock,  Arkady Renko. The militsiya officer is hunting the truth about three frozen corpses found in the titular park minus their faces and finger-tips.  Insisting the novel had  negative stereotypes of Russians and Communism (but an American villain!), the USSR banned Hollywood. Consequently, Moscow was played by Helsinki, and Park by Finland’s Kaisaniemi Park.
  46. Jack Nicholson Prizzi’s Honour, 1984. ”Do I ice her? Do I marry her?” Conundrum for Charley Partanna, hit-man for the Prizzi Family, when he falls for a fellow contractor: Kathleen Turner. John Huston had ten other Charley notions, each as mad as the other. Italians Al Pacino, Sylvester Stallone, even John Travolta made more sense than, say, Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, Ryan O’Neal, Christopher Reeve (!), Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight. Of course, Nicholson was the unlikeliest Brooklyn Mafioso since the Corleones’ James Caan, but terrific. Because Huston kept reminding him: ”Remember, he’s stupid!”

  47. Matthew  Broderick,  Ladyhawke,  1985.  
     “Dustin had  been involved before  me,” director Richard Donner told me in London.  So he Donner called other directors who had worked with him.  Never again, said Sydney Pollack and John Schlesiner. Hoffman loved the scenario, But… “If I have little things to do, will [Tom] Mankiewicz do them, or could I get Elaine May? And then other thing is, I don’t want to shoot in Italy because they’re kidnapping people there.  And I’d like to play it wIth a French accent…  I know I sound picky but you know my relationship with directors, it’s like a marriage. We fight and so on,  but in the end, we love each other.  Donner: That’s’ not true, Dustin. I’ve talked to four directors and they hate you.”       They talked about Gaston for months. “I never got a No from him. But I never got a Yes.  He kept saying: How can I do it different from Ratso Rizo?  I said: Limp on the other foot.

  48.  Al Pacino, Revolution, 1985.     After Guess Who? and Sam Shepherd walked, Hoffman hovered – for $4m. Guess Who? walked back and  the New York Times’ Vincent Canby called it England’s Heaven’s Gate –  “sloppily written,  edited and dubbed. Pacino’s very first speech is spoken as if he were a ventriloquist.”
  49. Roman Polanski, Pirates, 1985.   Roman Polanski wanted Jack Nicholson as Captain Red and Hoffman as Jean-Baptiste – aka The Frog.  Neither one would lower his salary. They’d worked too hared to get to where they were…
  50. Jack Nicholson, Heartburn, 1985.    At last, a decent ’85 venture…  Director Mike Nichols paid off  Mandy Patinkin  after a few days’ shooting  and thought of Hoffman.  Obviously.  Without naming names, the role was based on Hoffman’s  All The President’s Men role in  1976:  Washington Post journo Carl Bernstein. Hoffman is not a  repeater.

  51. Robert Redford, Legal Eagles, 1985.  A lesson in how not to make a movie because it started all wrong. No one was in it for the right reason.  Nobody was in control of it.   The reason to  make it…  was always  The Package.   All CAA clients.  Result: one giant flop for Hollywood super-agent and film arranger  Michael Ovitz.   He and Mr GhostbustersIvan Reitman wanted Dustin  and his Tootsie  flat-mate, Bill Murray, as the titular lawyers.  They wound up with Redford  and… Debra  Winger. “Bob disliked Ivan becaue Ivan was too commercial,” reported Ovitz. “Ivan disliked Debra because she was a prima donna… and she disliked Ivan right back. Bob and Debra had zero chemistry, and the script was all concept and no highs.”  
  52. Sean Connery, The Name of the Rose, 1986.    Three years later, Connery was Hoffman’s (most unlikely) father in Family Business. “I was the difficult actor. That was the word, difficult. I live in a community where there are much more objectionable things being done than disagreeing with a director. I mean, Jack Nicholson threw a television set at Roman Polanski. Bill Murray picked up the producer and threw her in the water, and Gene Hackman would throw a director from one end of the room to another, and I always thought, why have I got this reputation… I’m Jewish! Jews usually do it by negotiation.”
  53. Jon Voight, Runaway Train, 1986.    By Edward Bunker, the ex-con writer of Hoffman’s Straight Time, 1978 – both projects once had the same title, No Beast So Fierce.  Although a great fan of  the Russian film-maker Andrei Konchalovsky, Voight said no.  “Until his younger son persuaded him.”
  54.  Woody Allen, Hannah And Her Sisters, 1986.    “I only cast myself when I can’t get someone else,” insisted Woody. Hoffman is always in demand, he added, “not just waiting around for me to call. “
  55. Burgess Meredith, King Lear, 1986.  The contract  for bilious auteur Jean-Luc Godard to tackle Shakespeare was signed (an hour after it had  been mooted) on  large napkin at the Majestic Hotel bar during the 1985 Cannes festival.  The film was just as ridiculous. Marlon Brando  passed (he’d made enough rotten movies) and the modern-day Lear. Following Norman Mailer’s suggestion that “The Mafia is the only way to do King Lear,” Godard asked was then offered by Jean-Luc Godard and the Go Go twins, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, to Dustin Hoffman, director Joseph Losey, author Norman Mailer,  Lee Marvin and  Orson Welles.  Godard invited Steiger by  mail, on October 15, 1986.   “Sure,  if you shoot near my home in  Malibu!” Enter, swiftly,  grizzly Buzz Meredith. Godard had forgotten the perfect US choice: Robert Mitchum.
  56. Chick Vennera, The Milagro Beanfield War, 1986.    Robert Redford’s second directing job (eight years after Ordinary People) came from John Nichols’  “magic realist” New Mexican trilogy. Redford was wary of Hollywood’s the generalised ethnicity that ldelivered the project to Tony Bill, Dustin Hoffman an Al Pacino back in the day. He wanted  Hispanics as Hispanics. “Some of the people in the story know it’s a fable and others do not,” noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert. “This causes an uncertainty that runs all through the film.”   
  57. Gene Hackman, No Way Out, 1986.  For his excellent thriller (labyrinthine and ingenious, said Roger Ebert) the under-praised Aussie director Roger Donaldson tried all ages for the villain politico. From James Caan and Al Pacino at 46 to Gregory Peck at 70. Plus James Coburn, Sean Connery, James Cromwell, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Mitchum, Donald Moffat, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Jason Robards Donald Sutherland and Jon Voight.   Hackman (Hoffman’s longtime pal) was 56.
  58. Richard Dreyfuss,  The Tin Men, 1987.    “I turned it down – like a jerk.”  Made up for it by calling Barry Levinson to rescue Rain Man after the project had  massacred five writers and four directors. And they  won  an Oscars apiece.
  59. Mickey Rourke, Angel Heart, 1987.    Beaten to the rights by… Robert Redford.
  60.  Richard Dreyfuss, Nuts, 1987.    Announced alongside Barbra Streisand by director Martin Ritt in the summer of ’86.  They later became  man and wife (worse:  Ben Stiller’s parents) in Meet The Fockers, 2004.

  61. Robert De Niro, Midnight Run, 1987.   There were 23 possibilites for the lean, mean  skip-tracer (tracing felons who skipped bail) – on the run from the  FBI and the Mob after capturing Vegas embezzler Charles Grodin. Who knew De Niro could be more subtle at comedy than… Hoffman, Jeff Bridges, Charles Bronson, Michael Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Gene Hackman, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Ryan O’Neal (!), Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Mickey Rourke, Kurt Russell, John Travolta, Jon Voight and even the musclebound Arnie and Sly – Schwarzenegger and Stallone. Director Martin Brest, that’s who.
  62. Harrison Ford, Frantic, 1987.   Wanted : for a Roman Polanski thriller… an open-faced, all-American boy, honest, trustworthy, fairly strong physically, someone who becomes what he isn’t – frantic. When his wife disappears from their Paris hotel suite – phffft! like that – while he’s in the shower. Polanksi considered Hoffman, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Costner, then had dinner in Paris with ET scenarist Melissa Mathison to discuss Spielbegr’s Tintin project. And she brought hubby along…
  63. Harvey  Fierstein, Torch Song Trilogy, 1988.    Dustin and Richard Dreyfuss fought against being cast in Fierstein’s hit musical, stipulating that Fierstein alone should  play Arnold Beckoff – and he did when Matthew Broderick (a year before playing Hoffman’s son in Family Business) agreed to be the star attraction.
  64. Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society, 1988.    “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”   Disney offered Dustin this one to direct –  “and star in, if you like.” He did like. Except Rain Manfinally got moving. And Disney couldn’t wait.  Next? Alec Baldwin, Mel Gibson, Bill Murray, Liam Neeson, Robin’s pal Christopher Reeve and Mickey Rourke backed off. Williams dithered dfor ages and finally agreed. His co-star, Ethan Hawke, called the film: One Flew Over the Robin’s Nest… with Wlliams as Jack Nicholson, Norman Lloyd as Nurse Ratched and Robert Sean Leonard as Brad Dourif.
  65. Tom Cruise, Rain Man, 1988.  “No sex, no car chases and  no third act.” But super-agent Mchael Ovitz had already turned one old script, Tootsie, into a big hit for Hoffman and hoped for the same with him as the smart alec brother of Bill Murray’s autistic savant Raymond.  Except as directors changed from Barry Levinson to Martin Brest to Steven Spielberg to Sydney (Tootsie) Pollack and back to Barry, Hoffman read the script, and wanted to “Uh-ho!”  He was right. How come a superagent didn’t know that?  Cruise called it Two Schmucks in a Car!
  66. Harrison Ford, Frantic, 1988.    For his Hitchcockian exercise, director Roman Polanski first considered Hoffman as the American in Paris… losing his wife.
  67. Jack Nicholson, Batman, 1988.
  68. Al Pacino, Sea of Love, 1989.  Hoffman commissioned Richard Price to adapt his semi-autobiographical Ladies’  Man  – “a man and his bedroom, another woe-is-me product.” They had a Universal deal in six hours – until Hoffman moved Price to Rain Man “for a ton of money.” He quit after a month and headed towards – guess who? – Pacino. Al wanted a film, a decent one;  he hadn’t made anything since the lamentable Revolution in 1984.    His lover, Diane Keaton saved trhe day – and his career. As he told Village Voice, March 14, 2018. “During my hiatus, guess what? I went broke. My accountant. It’s happened to me twice. So, there it was. No money! And I was living with my great love, Diane Keaton, and she would look at me and say: ‘You’re going to go back to living in a room? Like the old days. You gotta get back to work.’ She was very active. She found Sea of Love for me. ‘This script is good, and it’s good for you.” I read it, and I brought it to Bregman, naturally. Marty got it done. And it was a kind of resurgence for me… You know, the old comeback.“ 
  69. Richard Dreyfuss, Always, 1989.    “A love story,” says Hoffman, listing the Spielberg offers he trounced.  This was the third in  a dozen years.
  70. Harvey Keitel, The Two Jakes, 1989.   
  71. Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs, 1990.
  72. Edward Asner, Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less, TV, 1990.     Minus Hoffman, Jeffrey Archer’s pulp fiction sunk to it’s own level –  a TV mini. Really, more of a  micro.

  73. James Caan, Misery, 1990.  
    “Beatty, Douglas, Dreyfuss… sure, I approached all those people,” said director Rob Reiner. “Every single one of those bastards turned me down… As much as I tried to convince them that I’d try to elevate the genre – which I feel we did – they saw it as a Stephen King, blood and guts kinda  film.”“Leading men hate to be passive; hate to be eunuchised by their female co-stars,” said top scenarist William Goldman on why 22 actors avoided the prospect of being beaten up and beaten to an Oscar by Kathy Bates as the mad fan of writer Paul Sheldon. Warren Beatty prevaricated but never actually said no (nor yes).  Richard Dreyfuss regretted disappointing director Rob Reiner again after refusing When Harry Met Sally, 1988 (they had earlier made a classic of   King’s novella, The Body, as Stand By Me, 1985).   William Hurt refused – twice. Jack Nicholson didn’t want another King guy so soon after The Shining.  While Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino being up  for the same role was nothing new  – but Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman was  Also fleeing the  32nd of Stephen King’s staggering 313 screen credits were Tim Allen, Jeff Daniels, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, close pals Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman, Ed Harris, John Heard, Robert Klein, Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, Denzel Washington, Robin Williams and Bruce Willis… who went on to be Sheldon in Goldman’s  2015 Broadway version.

  74. Tom Courtenay, Poslední motýl/The Last Butterfly, Czechoslovakia-France-UK,   1990. Started shooting in 1980 with Marcel Marceau as the clown hired by Nazis to entertain kids in the infamous Trezin concentration camp during a Red Cross inspection.
  75. Harvey Keitel, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  76. Tim Robbins, Jacob’s Ladder, 1990.  As keen (and able) as he was on being Jacob Singer, something of post-Vietnam War psychological time bomb. the UK director Adrian Lyne preferred the more ordinary, sympathetic, almost James Stewartian Robbins, thus making what Roger Ebert called  “the hallucinations of a desperate mind,” all the more real and painful.
  77. Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman, 1991.  First Jack Nicholson, then Pacino, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, even Joe Pesci (sheer desperation time!) rejected the blind Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade. Pacino’s agent talked him back into it. Result:  his much delayed Oscar.
  78. Richard Dreyfuss, Once Around, 1991.    Hoffman was Swedish film-maker Lasse Hallstrom’s dream. Richard Dreyfuss became his nightmare.
  79. Martin Scorsese, Guilty By Suspicion, 1991.    Robert De Niro asked him to play one of the McCarthyism victims.
  80. Danny De Vito, Other People’s Money, 1991.    All set as Larry The Liquidator (opposite Michelle Pfeiffer)  but dates clashed with the start of director Robert Benton’s Billy Bathgate.

  81. Robert Davi, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, 1991.  Hoffman passed on the role of Coumbus’ fellow explorer Martín Alonso Pinzón.  So did Dutch star Rutger Hauer. Director Ridley Scott also quit. He then helmed Frenchman Tchéky Karyo as Pinzon (skipper of the Pinta ship) in 1492: Conquest of Paradise – also produced that year for the 500th anniversary of Columbus discovering America. Neither one discovered a public.

  82. Danny DeVito, Batman Returns, 1991.

  83. Robert Downey Jr, Chaplin, 1992.     Another bio. Another meet with UK film-maker Richard Attenborough – who needed, of course, and finally tested, much  younger actors.
  84. Clint Eastwood, In The Line Of Fire, 1992. Jeff Maguire’s impeccable   script hung around Hollywood for a decade as they all – Beatty, Connery, Redford, Tommy Lee Jones  –  backed away from  the  ageing  Secret  Service  man. Hoffman was ready to go with his 1978 Agatha director Michael Apted… until UK producer David Puttnam became the new Columbia chief and canned the deal. Puttnam didn’t like Hoffman. They’d rowed publicly over the studio’s mega-flop, Ishtar. Not to mention Agatha.
  85. Michael Douglas, Falling Down, 1992.  I lost my job. Well, actually I didn’t lose it, it lost me. I am over-educated, under-skilled. Maybe it’s the other way around, I forget. But I’m obsolete. I’m not economically viable.” The guy known only by his car plate, D-FENS, is suffering from society and melting down. Dangerously. Perfect, therefore, for Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Ed Harris, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Robin Williams – and, indeed, director Joel Schumacher’s choice of his pal, Douglas, in a Spartacus buzz-cut, glasses and, finally, his very own Cuckoo’s Nest. 
  86. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers, 1993.    Chose Hook instead – lesser of two evils.  “It’s shocking that I got so tied up in reasons not to take parts”  – he had refused Spielberg five times. Danny De Vito, Robert De Niro (!), , Bruno Kirby and Cheech Marin also steered clear of the videogame’s Brooklyn plumber Mario Mario. Hoskins, among others, had been attracted by the by the script from fellow Brits Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais but Disney changed all that. “The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing [Max Headroom’sAnnabel Jankel and Rocky Morton] whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set!”

  87. Ben Kingsley, Schindler’s List, 1993.  
    Steven Spielberg spent ten years growing up before making  the Holocaust film and not just because he couldn’t find his Oskar Schindler, the Nazi businessman who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews.  Spielberg kept asking others to direct – Sidney Lumet  (he’d dealt with the Holocaust in The Pawnbroker), Roman Polanski  (“too soon”: he made his WWII film, The Pianist, in  2001),  Sydney Pollack, Martin Scorsese (“a Jew should make it”) – until he felt mature enough to handle such a personal subject.  Hoffman was keen to be Schindler’s Jewish accountant but there was a communication failure between them and Spielberg thought Dustin had passed.  “It’s shocking that I got so tied up in reasons not to take parts” – he saiod about  refusing  Spielberg five times. “You can find reasons not to do anything.” 

  88. Robert Redford,  Indecent Proposal, 1993.     UK helmer Adrian Lyne offered the role (rejected by Warren Beatty) of the zillionaire tycoon offering  $1m for one night with a young loser’s beautous wife.
  89. Joe Pesci, With Honours, 1994.     First, Hoffman, then – guess who? – Pacino were  seen by nine producers before the true tale of an emotionally-impaired guy tended by Havard students  passed  to a Scorsese mafioso.
  90. Harvey Keitel, Imaginary Crimes, 1994.    Over eleven years, Hoffman, Robert Duvall and Harrison Ford had been  up for the  hustler-father of two young girls – based on Sheila Ballantyne’s autobio.

  91. Laurence Fishburne, Higher Learning, 1954.    Hoffman was keen on the college professor aiding young Malik – if the film was just about them. Auteur John Singleton had other ideas – and characters. He shoulda listened.  
  92. Tom Hanks, Forest Gump, 1995.     Dustin made more sense to author Winston Groom than suggestions like John Goodman and… talk-show legend Jay Leno!
  93. Danny De Vito, Get Shorty, 1995.     Elmore Leonard based  the guy  on his own dealings with  Hoffman during 1986  talks about making La Bravo. “When [producer] Walter Mirisch set it up with Cannon,” said Hoffman, “I didn’t back out –  I flew.  They could do anything. And would.”
  94. Anthony Hopkins, Nixon, 1995.    Writer-producer-director Oliver Stone knocked on many doors…  Both actors had been up for another horror show – Hannibal Lecter!
  95. Gary Sinise, Truman, TV, 1995.    Nine years earlier, Hoffman had been announed for the role – of the  33rd  President of the USA, Harry S. Truman. The  S stood  for nothing but added gravitas. Now it stands for…  Sinise.
  96. Brian Cox, Chain  Reaction, 1996.    Hoffman knew that Morgan Freeman had the best role. (As per usual!). 
  97. Jeremy Irons, Lolita, 1996.    Once, Hoffman was Adrian Lyne’s first choice as the nymphet-loving Humbert Humbert. Now he was too old! Four years older than James Mason when he Humberted Sue Lyon. The film proved “a great wound in the side” for Irons. “A lot of peoope didn’t like the fact I made him likeable. But he’s likeable in the book.”  During the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse tsunami of 2017, Hoffman was outed by five women for alleged sexual assault – one being 16 (a high school friend of his daughter) when he exposed himself, another just 15 when (as per Weinstein and so many others of the outed predators) he masturbated in front of her.
  98. Geoffrey Rush, Shine, Australia, 1995.   Rather like the Aussie director Scott Hicks, Hoffman fell hard for the story of the down-under 40-year-old child prodigy pianist David Helfgott. Hicks had seen him play – “he quite simply transported the room” – and while spending ten years trying to film the aftermath of his breakdown, he decided Helfgott had be played by an Australian. ”Geoffrey, who seems to have specialised in playing difficult characters whose minds wander along the fine edges of sanity, is an actor of status who has no peer in Australia.”  For Shine, he became the first to an Oscar, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA and Critics’ Choice Awards  He did his own piano-playing. “If you are going to play Hamlet, you know you’ve got a big sword fight at the end, so you work on it. I was playing a concert pianist, so I… went into training!” Of course, as Hoffman would forever wish to change a role, his Helfgott probably would have finished up as a violinist… drummer… triangle-player…
  99. Anthony Hopkins, The Edge, 1997.    OK, Dusty was  working on not saying No so fast but he still recognised duff scenarios.
  100. Al Pacino, The Devil’s Advocate, 1997.      Picked up by  – Guess Who?  It was still Al, after all these years. “God knows I’ve done enough crap in my life to grow a few flowers.”

  101. Anthony Hopkins, Amistad, 1997.     “The one about slaves,” as he calls it when running through the five Spielberg films he refused. (And indeed, the three US presidents: the 33rd Truman, the 37th Nixon and  here,  the 6th, John Quincy Adams. At the time, Hoffman was too busy flirting with dumb action movies: Sphere, Outbreak.
  102. Woody Allen, Deconstructing Harry, 1997.    “I tried to get Hoffman,” claimed Woody.  He also tried for Robert De Niro, Elliot Gould,  even Dennis Hopper.  “There are plenty of actors and actresses… saying  ‘I’m dying to work with you so I’d do anything’ – that are not available or they can’t work for the pay I’m offering.” Harry was a slimeball.   Not when Woody played him. Foolishly, Dusty never  worked with Woody, his ex-wife did. Anne Byrne, ex-dancer,  was  Woody’s wife, Emily, in Manhattan, 1978.
  103. John Travolta, Mad City, 1997.     Once getting the script from Paris director Costa-Gavras, Hoffman spent 45 minutes on the phone to convince Travolta to… swop roles with him!
  104. Harrison Ford, Random Hearts, 1998.    Hoffman had optioned Warren Adler’s  novel a decade earlier and worked with auteur James Brooks until blowing c Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  125