Monday, February 01, 2010

Miller on Hoffman

Arthur Miller gave a lecture on politics and the art of acting back in 2001. He had this to say about running into Dustin Hoffman on the street in 1966.

- I remember running into Dustin Hoffman on a rainy New York street some years ago; he had only a month earlier played the part of the Lomans' pale and nervous next door neighbor Bernard in a recording session with Lee Cobb of Death of Salesman. Now as he approached, counting the cracks in the sidewalk, hatless, his wet hair dripping, a worn coat collar turned up, I prepared to greet him thinking that with his bad skin, hawkish nose and adenoidal voice some brave friend really ought to tell him to go into another line, of work. As compassionately as possible I asked what he was doing now, and with a rather apologetic sigh he said, after several sniffles, "Well they want me for a movie." "Oh?" I felt relieved that he was not to collapse in front of me in a fit of depression, "what's the movie?"

"It's called 'The Graduate,' he said.

"Good part?"

"Well, yeah, I guess it's the lead."

In no time at all this half-drowned puppy would have millions of people at his feet all over the world. And once having ascended to power, so to speak, it became hard even for me to remember him when he was real. Not that he wasn't real, just that he was real plus. And the plus is the mystery of the patina, the glow that power paints on the human being.

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