Your browser is out of date and may not properly display all features on this and other websites.
Update your browser for a better experience on GlobalTV.com.
The Cleveland Show
Feb 11 2011, 11:23 AM by LoriH65
The chemistry between Dustin Hoffman (Academy Award winner for
Kramer Vs. Kramer and Rain Man), Sean Connery
(the most popular British secret agent of the shaken, not stirred
James Bond film franchise) and Matthew Broderick
(Ferris Bueller's Day Off) in the Sidney Lumet direct
action/comedy Family Business was so impeccably spot on
and undeniably perfect, it's impossible to imagine any other actors
better suited for the roles.
"From the moment that Sean, Matt and myself met and then started
working together, we instantly knew that we all had a real
connection that would work great for the film," recalls the
63-year-old Dustin Hoffman, who recently starred in the second
sequel Little Fockers. "We all really liked each other,
and we all understood each other and our characters. I've had
people ask me to explain it, but the only way to describe chemistry
is like when you meet someone at a party, the next day you say,
'Jesus, I don't know what it is? But, I really like that person,
and we think alike.' You can't force it to happen, it's just
something that happens and it's part of what makes acting
Filmed on location in New York City, Jersey City and Long Island,
the Vincent Patrick-penned Family Business is the witty
and clever story of Adam (Broderick), a promising, up-and-coming
business executive who discovers he comes from a long line of
criminals when his dad Vito (Hoffman) and grandfather Jessie
(Connery) approach him with a less-than-legal proposition.
Hoffman, who has been enjoying tremendous critical acclaim for his
recent appearances in the independent hits Last Chance
Harvey (with Emma Thompson) and Barney's Version
(with Minnie Driver) chatted with us, recalling some of his earlier
work and latest projects.
What do you remember about doing Family
More than anything, I just remember having a really good time
working with Sean and Matt. We had such a fun time doing the film.
It was a really great script, so it gave us the chance to
concentrate on our characters and not have to worry about the
writing. If you have to worry about the writing, then the acting,
is going to suffer. Vincent (Patrick) did a great job with the
script, so we had a unlimited time working with each other and our
There have been times throughout your career when you've
been labeled a "difficult" actor on the set...
I think that whole difficult thing probably comes from unhappy cast
members, directors or producers. Who knows. I would have to say
that the most insulting thing that an actor can do to a director is
to challenge when he or she is satisfied with your interpretation.
You are not there to tell them something isn't right. You have
those directors that want to be surprised by an actor, and those
that want to control and want to know in advance what you are going
to do and don't want you to overstep that boundary. Early on, I
think I learned a couple of lessons on how to avoid the trappings
that I had early on with directors, because I don't have them
anymore. So, I think difficult is an old rumor that has never gone
What are your memories of doing the classic The
I'm doing The Graduate, and my dad didn't know boundaries,
and I didn't want to invite him to the set, because I knew it would
be trouble. It was also my first role. We were going to shoot at
the Coconut Grove, in the lobby, and I knew there were going to be
a lot of people, and there would be ropes and it would be
safe. So I invited my parents that night. So I do a scene and go to
the bathroom when it's finished. When I come out, (director) Mike
Nichols is behind the camera, with the editor and the
cinematographer, and they're laughing, and they stop laughing as I
near them. I knew it was something. And they didn't want to tell me
this, but when my father saw I was gone, he climbed over the rope
and he went over and he introduced himself. And he literally said
to Mike Nichols, 'I think you're lining up the shot wrong.'
What about Kramer vs. Kramer?
This time, it's about my mom. (laughs) It's 1979, and with
Kramer vs. Kramer, we're getting all the awards. We go to
London and have a big premiere, and I brought my parents. You stand
in the line and there's the Queen, and there's someone next to her
who always whispers who's next. And she talks to you like you're an
old friend. I'm standing in line, behind a rope and my parents are
standing right behind me. I'm the tallest one in my family, and my
mother wants to stand in front. And they're coming around, and I
say, 'Look, you're not allowed to. There's no other parents.' Then
I heard behind me, 'Honey, honey.' And I turn, and she had tried to
come over the rope, and because she's so short, she got stuck. And
the rope is literally where her crotch is! She couldn't go forward,
and she couldn't go back. We had to hoist her over. And that's a
true story! (laughs)
Recently, when you did Last Chance Harvey, you
said that you love doing romantic comedies, but you haven't done
many American-made romances until now. Why?
I think we've always been behind Europe when it comes to film. When
I came here to study in the late 50s, early 60s, we went to see
Truffaut, Antonioni, De Sica, Bergman and Fellini. I remember, back
in those days, going to the Thalia on upper Broadway and I'd see
so-called romances about middle-aged people like with Romy
Schneider. So maybe we're just finally getting around to what they
were doing 40 years ago.
I know that you give a lot of younger actors that you work with
advice, or little gifts when filming is over. Has an older actor
even done that for you?
Laurence Olivier did, when we were done with Marathon Man.
I have to say it was one of the best memories of my career. We had
become very good friends during filming. Honestly, though, he had
at least four or five different illnesses. While we were doing the
film, he was on this really strong medication, and he had trouble
memorizing even three lines or four lines in a row. It was sad
because Olivier was an actor who used to hold all these
Shakespearian roles in his head while he was doing repertory. But,
we'd talk about how he'd do that, and we talked a lot about
Shakespeare. He kept saying, 'Oh my dear boy, you have to do
Shakespeare.' We had just finished Marathon Man, and I was
still in my rented house and he stops by and says, 'Dear boy, I
know you are finished, but I'd like to drop something off to you.'
What he gave me was incredible -- a leather bound collection of
Shakespeare's completed works, notated by Olivier, himself. He sat
with me afterwards, going through this anthology and reading out
passages. It was an extraordinary moment.
By: Earl Dittman