Dustin Hoffman‘s bad work ethic with Meryl Streep started long before working on Kramer vs. Kramer. However, it certainly established how Streep would view Hoffman moving forward, but it wasn’t just aimed at her. His method of acting, in particular, left a bad taste in a lot of colleagues’ mouths. Here’s the story of how Hoffman first met Streep and how that translated to them playing husband and wife on the silver screen years later.
‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ had another actor in mind for Joanna Kramer
Erin Carlson’s Queen Meryl noted that Streep wasn’t the first actor considered to play the role of Joanna in Kramer vs. Kramer. Bigger names at the time, such as Ali McGraw, Faye Dunaway, and Jane Fonda were the initial picks. However, Streep walked into the interview ready to voice her concerns surrounding the screenplay, or more specifically, the character of Joanna.
Hoffman doesn’t recall Streep saying anything at the meeting, but she remembers a vastly different story. She explained why she thought Joanna came across as the “bad mommy.” She wanted to bring more nuance to the role, although audiences continue to voice concerns regarding how the film feels anti-feminist for villainizing Joanna for wanting full custody of her son. Kramer vs. Kramer is told entirely from the perspective of Hoffman’s Ted.
Meryl Streep had a ‘terrible’ first experience with Dustin Hoffman
Queen Meryl dissects the experiences between Streep and Hoffman. They met several years before working on Kramer vs. Kramer. She auditioned for a Broadway play he was directing called All Over Town. Streep was attending school at Yale at the time, but Carlson describes the actors’ first meeting as a “terrible first impression.”
Hoffman said, “I’m Hoffman” before burping and groping her. She had no idea that she would one day have to play his wife on the silver screen. According to Carlson, he apologized for this incident since, although neither of them talked about exactly how that apology went down. However, Streep did accept Hoffman’s apology and they both earned Oscars for their tremendous performances.
Dustin Hoffman’s method acting impacted Meryl Streep on the ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ set
Unfortunately, Hoffman’s unacceptable behavior toward Streep only got worse while working on Kramer vs. Kramer. He often yelled at her, threw objects at her, and even slapped her in the face. Queen Meryl explains that his deep method acting often put his fellow actor in the crosshairs of his rage. He wanted to get the best performance out of her as possible, which only further angered her.
However, Streep further mentioned that Hoffman’s behavior would never be acceptable in the modern workplace. She’s glad to see that there’s more accountability for men who exhibit such behavior over women on movie sets and in other industries around the world.