I'm not sure how I got this far along in life without knowing this, but Dustin Hoffman is kind of a ham. An actor more than capable of toning it down onscreen, he was all winks, double-entendres and long-winded anecdotes at a press conference for Last Chance Harvey last month. And let me tell you, it was a blast. It's hard to capture the rapport between him and Emma Thompson, or how he was so intent on entertaining us that he stuck around even after the press conference's moderator had left the room. So instead I'll give you his two best stories, both involving his parents behind-the-scenes of two of Hoffman's best movies.
Last Chance Harvey, in case you saw it on the Golden Globe nominations list and was wondering what it's all about, is a romantic comedy starring Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman as two people cautiously finding love while well into middle-age. It's low-key and charming, and really does benefit from Thompson's and Hoffman's natural chemistry together.
We'll get to that part later, as I report more from the press conference. In the meantime, Dustin and parents, take it away!
Story #1: Dustin's dad almost ruins The Graduate.
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 almost my first role. We were going to shoot at the Coconut Grove, in the lobby, where I come to get the room for Anne Bancroft and I. And I knew there were going to be a lot of background people, and there would be ropes and it would be safe. So I invite [my parents] that night. So I do a scene and I finish the scene. I go to the bathroom, and I come out of the bathroom, and 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.'
Story #2: Dustin's mom embarrasses him in front of the Queen.
1979, 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 it'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. Anyways, my parents are standing behind me, right behind, and a rope is there. I'm standing in line, and they're standing right here. And they're shorter than I am-- I am 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.' They get to one person before the person next to me, and I hear behind me-- I'm nervous-- and I hear 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. That's a true story.