The Hollywood star, well known for his starring roles in The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, and Rain Man, has a home in Kensington and was taking a walk in the park when he stopped to helped Sam Dempster. Hoffman, 74, had seen him fall and called 999, later staying at Mr Dempster's side for 15 minutes as paramedics performed CPR and telling them "great job, guys" after his heart started beating again.
Dustin Hoffman's characterization as the unglamorous 'Ratso' Rizzo (Enrico Salvatore Rizzo), a sickly individual who befriends the drifter, was only his second film role. It was a risky reversal and breakout role from his 'clean-cut' Benjamin Braddock role in The Graduate (1967), yet he earned a second Academy Award nomination. Hoffman's unknown co-star Jon Voight also received his first Best Actor nomination for his role as a disillusioned and dispirited Texas stud. Both actors memorably portrayed forgotten dregs and decadent losers of society's underbelly, living a marginalized existence in American society.
In addition to Lord Olivier's superb performance, "Marathon Man" has several other superior things going for it: Dustin Hoffman as a moody, guilt-ridden, upper-West Side New Yorker, a haunted innocent obsessed with running, pursued by an unknown evil; Roy Scheider and William Devane as members of some sort of super-super Central Intelligence Agency, and the direction of Mr. Schlesinger, who has made a most elegant, bizarre, rococo melodrama out of material that, when you think about it, makes hardly any sense at all.
I stopped working a few years ago because I just lost a spark that I'd had before. I thought I'd just try writing, and maybe start directing, but I did it very quietly. Three years went by, when my wife said something to me that kind of altered me. She said, "Why don't you throw all those rules out that you've always had? Don't worry about the script, don't worry about the part, don't worry about the budget. By this point you should know whether you're going to have a fulfilling experience with the director and the people you're going to work with. So why don't you just try doing that?" Which is basically what I did on I Heart Huckabees. I liked David O Russell's work so I said yes without really looking at the part. I did Finding Neverland because I loved what Marc Forster did with Monster's Ball and Johnny Depp is an actor I've admired for years. So I've been having the most fulfilling time I've had since I first started getting work off Broadway.
His willingness to devote so much time to Tootsie stemmed from his interest in taking that range of journeys which justifies the madness and hassle of the acting profession. In The Graduate, his hilarious portrayal of a young man seduced by an older woman won him an Oscar nomination. He was nominated again when he played the seedy derelict Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy and again for his portrayal of the doomed comedian Lenny Bruce in Lenny. Range was Hoffman's passion. In Papillon he played a French counterfeiter; in All the President's Men, an indefatigable journalist; in Straw Dogs, an avenging intellectual. His desire to play a woman in Tootsie may have appeared political in the context of the times, but in fact, it was overwhelmingly artistic. Hoffman was not looking for the truth about women. He was looking for the woman in himself.
Hoffman began acting at the Pasadena Playhouse with Gene Hackman. After two years at the playhouse, Hackman headed for New York City and Hoffman soon followed. Having considerable difficulty getting roles in part due to his unconventional countenance for an actor of that time, he worked a series of odd jobs, including coat checking at restaurants, working in the typing department of the city Yellow Pages directory, and stringing Hawaiian leis, while getting the occasional bit television role. To support himself, he left acting briefly to teach. He worked as a professional fragrance tester for Maxwell House. He also did the occasional television commercial. An often-replayed segment on programs that explore actors' early work is a clip Hoffman touting the Volkswagon Fastback.
Dustin was the second son born to Harry and Lillian Hoffman on August 8, 1937, at Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles. Legend has it that his mother named him Dustin because she was a devout movie fan of Dustin Farnum, a star of silent cowboy films. But that is simply the brainchild of some Hollywood publicist. As Lillian Hoffman once remarked in an interview: "That's just not true. I'm not old enough to remember Dustin Farnum. I just liked the name; that's why I called him Dustin."
During the filming of Wag the Dog (1997) Hoffman, his co-star Robert De Niro and director Barry Levinson had an impromptu meeting with President Bill Clinton at a Washington hotel. "So what's this movie about?" Clinton asked De Niro. De Niro looked over to Levinson, hoping he would answer the question. Levinson, in turn, looked over to Hoffman. Hoffman, realizing there was no one else to pass the buck to, is quoted as saying, "So I just started to tap dance. I can't even remember what I said."