Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep are two iconic actors who have worked together on multiple occasions, creating some of the most memorable moments in film history. Their collaborations have resulted in outstanding performances and critical acclaim, showcasing their immense talent and versatility.
They collaborated in Kramer vs. Kramer, a 1979 drama film directed by Robert Benton. The story revolves around the divorce and custody battle between Ted Kramer (played by Dustin Hoffman) and his estranged wife Joanna (portrayed by Meryl Streep). The film explores the complexities of family dynamics, love, and personal growth. However, something shocking happened while they were filming.
Did Dustin Hoffman Take Method Acting Too Far
According to a biography, it is claimed that during the production of Kramer vs. Kramer, Dustin Hoffman purportedly engaged in a controversial incident involving Meryl Streep. Allegedly, Hoffman slapped Streep and made hurtful remarks referencing her recently deceased boyfriend.
As stated in the unauthorized biography “Becoming Meryl Streep,” penned by Michael Schulman, it is purported that the aforementioned incidents were attributed to the concept of method acting. Schulman, a contributor to the New York Times, delves into these claims in his book, shedding light on the alleged motivations behind the actions.
This particular film delved into the intricacies of the divorce between Joanna and her husband Ted, played by Hoffman. In an edition of Vanity Fair, an adapted excerpt from the biography highlights the intriguing revelation that it was, in fact, Dustin Hoffman who personally advocated for Meryl Streep to portray the character of Joanna in the 1979 film. Notably, both Hoffman and Streep were subsequently honored with Academy Awards for their exceptional performances in the film.
Dustin Hoffman Taunted Meryl Streep About Her Dead Boyfriend
According to Mr. Shulman’s account, one of the factors influencing Hoffman’s decision to choose Streep for the role stemmed from his awareness of her recent personal loss—the passing of her boyfriend, acclaimed actor John Cazale. Hoffman purportedly believed that Streep’s grief would serve as a wellspring of raw emotions, allowing her to tap into a poignant reservoir of sorrow while portraying the character of Joanna.
“Improvising his lines […] he started taunting Meryl about John Cazale, jabbing her with remarks about his cancer and his death,” Shulman wrote. Hoffman was “using stuff that he knew about her personal life and about John to get the response that he thought she should be giving in the performance.”
Following the incident, it was reported that Streep departed the studio in a state of anger. As described by Mr. Shulman, this event seemed to transform the dynamic on set, shifting the focus from “Kramer vs. Kramer” to a battle between Streep and Hoffman. The biography further asserts that Hoffman allegedly whispered Cazale’s name into Streep’s ear, deliberately evoking a sense of distress and planting emotional seeds in preparation for a later courtroom scene in the film.
Kramer vs. Kramer is available for rent and purchase on Google Play and Amazon Instant Video.