Cast member Dustin Hoffman poses during the DVD release
of "Kung Fu Panda" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California
November 9. At 71, Dustin Hoffman says he will never retire from acting, but he
may have to look far beyond the Hollywood that made him famous to find the roles
he relishes as he ages. - Xinhua/Reuters
At 71, Dustin Hoffman says he will never retire from acting, but he may have
to look far beyond the Hollywood that made him famous to find the roles he
relishes as he ages.
His latest film, "Last Chance Harvey," is a small ode to finding love late in
life, a theme that should resound with the fastest-growing movie-going audience
-- viewers over 40. It opens in US theaters on Christmas Day.
Hoffman, who plays down-on-his-luck Harvey opposite Emma Thompson's Kate,
would like to make more films for older fans, just as he reveled in representing
a younger generation as Benjamin Braddock in "The Graduate" 40 years ago.
But the two-time Oscar winner and seven-time nominee doesn't think the
Hollywood studios -- bent on big films that blanket theaters -- are capable of
taking on senior romance.
"If I had my druthers, it wouldn't be to change the studio system. It would
be to add two or maybe three languages to my repertoire, which now only consists
of street English," Hoffman said in a recent interview.
"But if I could speak French, Spanish and Italian, I'd be working in movies
that interested me more. They still honor love stories about people who are past
the age of not needing facial work. You can age in Europe."
Hoffman, born and raised in Los Angeles, says he never understood, even as a
kid, the obsession with youth and what he calls "the lack of respect for age
here that doesn't exist in all countries."
'MY BEST WORK IS ... AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL'
"Last Chance Harvey," written and directed by British filmmaker Joel Hopkins,
was tailor-made for Hoffman and Thompson, friends since they made "Stranger than
Fiction" a few years ago. Hoffman made sure that Harvey, like himself, was a
frustrated jazz pianist.
Divorced, lonely and about to lose his job as a past-his-prime jingles
composer, Harvey heads to London for his daughter's wedding. As he obsesses
about getting back to New York to save his job, Harvey careens toward failure as
a father until he meets sensitive and hopelessly single Kate.
Kate, a middle-aged woman held back by a needy mother and a go-nowhere job,
dreams of becoming a writer. A most unlikely pair, Harvey and Kate roam the
streets of a romantic London and mull over life and dreams.
A turning point comes when Harvey, at Kate's urging, rushes back to the
daughter's wedding and makes a speech that could have gone terribly wrong, but
instead redeems him.
Hoffman wrote the speech with his wife of some 30 years the night before
filming, dredging up emotions from his own divorce from his first wife when he
was making "Kramer vs Kramer" -- a portrait of divorce for which he won his
first Academy Award.
"I do my best work when it is, in a sense, autobiographical," said Hoffman.
"With 'Tootsie,' I became a better man by having been a woman. In 'Kramer,' he
was a bad father and had to become a good father."
As he enters his seventh decade, Hoffman says people pussyfoot around his age
for fear of offending him. But he says he has never felt better than he does
right now. "That's because I am closer to understanding that your life can be
yours and you don't have to feel bad about it," he said.
He hopes to emulate legends who worked up to the end of their lives with good
humor, even in failing health. One of his favorite examples is the late comedian
George Burns, who said: "Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a
"To have that playfulness about mortality," said Hoffman. "If that isn't the
object of life, I don't know what is."