In the clip, the actor was being interviewed about his role in the 1982 film Tootsie, in which the then-45-year-old Hoffman starred as Michael Dorsey, an actor struggling to find work until he dresses a woman (Dorothy Michaels) and secures a lead role in a soap drama.
In the viral TikTok video of the resurfaced interview, Hoffman, 85, explains how playing a woman changed his view about the standards of beauty women are faced with, with the caption reading: “The most honest thing I’ve ever heard a man say.”
The actor says in the American Film Institute interview that in preparation for his role, he visited the studio and asked for make-up tests so that he could walk down the streets of New York dressed convincingly as a woman.
“When we got to that point and looked at it on screen, I was shocked that I wasn’t more attractive," Hoffman recalls of seeing himself in character as Dorothy Michaels. “I said, ‘Now you have me looking like a woman, now make me a beautiful woman.’ Because I thought I should be beautiful. ... And they said to me, ‘That’s as good as it gets.’”
Hoffman then starts tearing up, recalling a later conversation with his wife when he had a realisation about the beauty standards women are often subjected to.
“It was at that moment I had an epiphany, and I went home and started crying, talking to my wife,” he said.
The Meet The Fockers actor recounted that he was adamant he wanted to star in Tootsie because he realised the film had a deeper meaning.
“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 for us to ask them out.’”
“I said: ‘There’s so many interesting women in this life that I have not had the experience to know because I have been brainwashed,’” Hoffman said, explaining the conversation.
In the comments of the TikTok video, users praised Hoffman for his honesty and openness.
“Love this,” wrote one person. “He understood how unattainable beauty standards can be ostracising and ultimately harm everybody just by keeping us apart.”
Another person agreed, writing: “And if you happen to be attractive often they never want to find out if you’re actually interesting. It’s irrelevant to them. Beauty is all.”
Others, however, said that Hoffman’s realisation came too “late”.
“Kind of sad it took [playing a woman] to have perspective but at least it gave him some,” one person wrote.
Another defended Hoffman, saying how the interview inspired their own outlook: “I get the impetus to dismiss Hoffman for finally getting it late in the game, but if it matters I cut my teeth on Tootsie, and its ideal stuck.”
“For those saying don’t praise the bare minimum, we’re praising the growth. and not doing so makes people not want to grow at all. make growth pleasant,” wrote another.
Hoffman was nominated for the Best Actor Award for his role in Tootsie at the Academy Awards in 1983 and won Best Actor at the BAFTAs for the same role.