Dustin Hoffman broke down in tears during a special British Academy of Film and Television Arts event last Tuesday, which was being held to honor the actor’s lengthy career.
Hoffman was the subject of a Life in Pictures retrospective during the event in London, reports MSN Entertainment. He grew teary when he recalled the struggle of his marriage breakdown while he was considering a role in the 1979 divorce drama Kramer vs. Kramer.
The actor revealed to the audience:
“I was getting divorced [from first wife Anne Byrne], I’d been partying with drugs and it depleted me in every way.”
Hoffman added that he almost refused to meet with producer Stanley Jaffe and director/writer Bob Benton, because he didn’t care for the script. He only joined the cast after the script had been rewritten. The actor added:
“We finished and I got offered a writing credit and stupidly turned it down, but it was a liberating experience for me to push all the stuff I was going through out there.”
The Hollywood Reporter notes that Dustin Hoffman teared up again when speaking about the child actor, Justin Henry, who also took part in the film, landing the part despite no acting experience. Hoffman recalled:
“I later discovered he was coming from a home that was breaking up. There was a moment during a break in the testing when I thought, this it the right kid, he’s my son.”
The tears flowed once more, when Hoffman discussed with the audience his experience making another Oscar-winning film, Rain Man, with director Barry Levinson. Hoffman told the audience how he was two weeks into the shooting and wasn’t sure how he was going to play the part of the autistic brother, Raymond Babbitt.
The actor was sitting in an open top Cadillac with Tom Cruise. Levinson took him aside to look at the film of the pair because, unbeknownst to Hoffman, he had created the essence of Raymond Babbitt, simply by repeating “yeah” to everything Cruise was saying. Hofman recalled:
“It was that marvelous feeling when you find yourself in a territory when you think you’re not getting it. It’s feeling like you’re in between worlds.”
Dustin Hoffman whispered an apology to his wife, Lisa, who was in the audience, as the lights dimmed to show a clip of a scene from Kramer vs. Kramer.