The Academy Award-winning comedy "Tootsie" starred Dustin Hoffman as a notoriously difficult actor who adopted a female persona in order to find work, and the actor says the role led him to an "epiphany" on society's expectations of women.
In a touching 2012 interview with the American Film Institute that's just now going viral, actor Dustin Hoffman chokes up as he reveals that the 1982 film was "never a comedy" for him.
Hoffman said he only agreed to make the movie if he could believably pass as a woman, and so negotiated makeup tests before production. After seeing himself in the screen tests, he was satisfied he could pass as a woman, but wanted to be prettier.
"I was shocked that I wasn’t more attractive," Hoffman admitted. But when he asked his makeup artists to make him more beautiful, they told him that was as good as it gets.
"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."
"Tootsie" was nominated for ten oscars, including Hoffman for Best Actor. Jessica Lange won the award for Best Supporting Actress. It was the second highest grossing film of 1982 behind "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial."
The film was critically praised for its commentary on sexism and gender roles. In 1998 the United States Library of Congress designated the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.