Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman Hated Each Other While Filming ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ — and the Feud Continues Today
In those “Kramer vs. Kramer” moments when it seemed like Ted (Dustin Hoffman) and Joanna (Meryl Streep) had no chance of ever reconciling, it’s possible there wasn’t much acting going on. It turns out Hoffman and Streep had a difficult relationship on set, which Streep attributed to Hoffman’s callous behavior behind the scenes.
The feud between the pair continues today — but what happened when the cameras were off that caused such a poor co-star relationship?
Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman starred in ‘Kramer vs Kramer’ in 1979
“Kramer vs Kramer” was one of Streep’s first major roles, and she was thrilled to have landed the part in the legal drama. The story followed Ted Kramer (Hoffman) and his wife, Joanna (Streep), as they went through a divorce. Ted, who is an advertising executive, works too often, which in part results in Joanna deciding to leave him. Ted and Joanna go through difficulties throughout the movie but ultimately end up on good terms.
The couple’s son, Billy, is a major part of the film as well, as Billy ends up being the person who brings the two together and helps Joanna realize that she doesn’t want to force Billy away from his father to come live with her. But the tension between Ted and Joanna on set actually translated to true tension between Hoffman and Streep while filming.
Hoffman once reportedly slapped Streep without warning and insulted her
In the years after filming, Streep has opened up about what it was really like to work alongside Hoffman — and she hasn’t had great things to say. Streep opened up about a scene during which Hoffman’s character was supposed to slap Streep’s character, though the slap was meant to be fake — but Hoffman did it anyway. And Streep said he crossed a line. “You see [the slap] in the movie,” she told The New York Times in 2018. “It was overstepping.”
The Telegraph also reported that Hoffman yelled at Streep after watching a scene he didn’t like, saying she needed to “stop carrying the flag for feminism and just act the scene.” Hoffman also reportedly taunted Streep about her late boyfriend, John Cazale, who had died two years prior, according to Vanity Fair. Even today, the two still don’t like working together.
Hoffman has been regarded as highly difficult to work with
Streep isn’t the only person to accuse Hoffman of being difficult on set. Sydney Pollack, who directed “Tootsie,” which starred Hoffman, also said that Hoffman was no easy person to deal with. Hoffman would continuously request that takes be done and redone, so he could get them absolutely perfect — and he didn’t deny that. He also demanded minute details in his contracts to make sure everything went exactly his way.
“If I beg for another take, and then another, it’s usually because I think I can do it better,” Hoffman once told Irish Times. And, yes, I insist.” Hoffman also explained his reasoning behind his difficult movie contracts. “If you don’t insist on certain controls up front, you’re in real trouble as an artist,” he said. “If I’m going to spend two and a half years of my life on a project, I’ve got to be more than a puppet actor.”