Hoffman made the comments in an American Film Institute interview posted on YouTube in December.
The Hollywood Reporter said it went viral Tuesday. As of Wednesday morning, it had gotten nearly 4 million hits.
In the clip, Hoffman talks about a revelation he had while getting his makeup done for the 1982 movie in which he plays a man who will do anything to get an acting job -- even dress like a woman.
Hoffman said he was "shocked that I wasn't more attractive" and urged the makeup team to make him "more beautiful."
"And they said to me, 'That's as good as it gets,'" Hoffman said, remembering how he wept while relating the story to his wife.
"I said, 'I have to make this picture,' and she said, 'Why?'" Hoffman said. "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.' ... There's too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed."
Hoffman went on to say "Tootsie" was "never a comedy for me."