The Meyerowitz Sto­ries (New And Se­lected) are avail­able on Net­flix to­day.

Laura Harding

Belfast Telegraph - - LIFE -

Dustin Hoff­man is quite sur­prised he’s here. Not here, here, seated next to Adam San­dler in a dark Lon­don ho­tel room, but here as a megas­tar and dou­ble Os­car win­ner, still work­ing at the age of 80. It’s 50 years since he de­scended the es­ca­la­tor to the sound of Si­mon & Gar­funkel in The Grad­u­ate, pro­pel­ling him to a kind of gen­er­a­tion-defin­ing fame he never could have pre­dicted.

Since then the hits are al­most too nu­mer­ous to men­tion, although any at­tempt would surely in­clude Mid­night Cow­boy, All The Pres­i­dent’s Men, Kramer vs Kramer, Rain Man, Straw Dogs, Marathon Man, Toot­sie and Hook.

“I never thought that I would get hired when I was start­ing out,” he says. “Bob Du­vall, Gene Hack­man and my­self, we were hop­ing just to make a liv­ing off Broad­way. We never thought any of this would hap­pen.”

But hap­pen it did to all three, a band of pals who are now of­ten men­tioned in con­ver­sa­tions about the great­est liv­ing ac­tors.

Hoff­man’s been nom­i­nated for seven Academy Awards and bagged two, for Kramer vs Kramer and Rain Man, won the Life­time Achieve­ment Award from the Amer­i­can Film In­sti­tute, and the Kennedy Cen­tre Hon­ours Award, but says all that suc­cess has not helped him to put his fin­ger on quite who he is.

“I cal­cu­lated that I need to live to be about

132 be­cause at that mo­ment I will know my­self,” he adds. “I have been talk­ing to God about that.”

He is cer­tainly settling into the pro­fes­sional role of a pa­tri­arch and flex­ing some of his comedic mus­cles in films such as Meet The Fock­ers, Lit­tle Fock­ers and the Kung Fu Panda an­i­mated movies.

He con­tin­ues that run in Noah Baum­bach’s new film The Meyerowitz Sto­ries (New And Se­lected), in which he plays a sculp­tor dis­sat­is­fied with the level of suc­cess he’s achieved and a self-in­volved and neg­li­gent fa­ther to three adult chil­dren played by San­dler, Ben Stiller and Home­land’s El­iz­a­beth Mar­vel.

“I don’t think ac­tors should play parts un­less they are in it, oth­er­wise it looks like they are per­form­ing a part,” he says.

“They go, ‘Oh so-and-so is an a**hole but I’m not an a**hole so I will just per­form an a**hole. I will get a few peo­ple in my head that I know are a**holes and just do that’.

“I think we have the a**hole in us, all of us, and it’s up to us to en­large that.”

He says this com­mit­ment and truth­ful­ness is some­thing he has wit­nessed in San­dler, who plays the less suc­cess­ful of his two sons, the one who never had a sculp­ture named af­ter him.

“What Adam was do­ing, which I can’t put into words, there was some­thing about him I’ve not seen be­fore,” he adds.

“I know him and I’ve done a film with him but I went home and said to my wife, ‘I think he’s hit a part of him­self in which he would be the per­son that didn’t make it’.

“And that is as close as you can get to the bone. I thought that is what Adam was do­ing to hit that.”

The pair clearly have a lot of re­spect and af­fec­tion for each other, but they also like to make fun of each other.

When dis­cussing Baum­bach’s brisk screen­play, which sees char­ac­ters wrapped in their own mono­logues, fail­ing to en­gage with and re­spond to each other, San­dler jokes: “He does that in real life. Dustin doesn’t ac­knowl­edge any­body in the room, (he just) looks in the dis­tance.

“‘When is this over?’ is ba­si­cally what he’s think­ing when­ever I speak with him; he looks like, ‘Let’s end this, so I can get back to hu­man­ity’.”

Hoff­man adds: “Noah had a 172-page script and yet the film is only one hour and 50 min­utes.

“He said some­thing that I thought was very in­ter­est­ing, which is that we as hu­man be­ings want to be able to guess what the per­son is say­ing to us be­fore they fin­ish.

“That is very or­di­nary in real life — we don’t have to hear the whole sen­tence.”

San­dler laughs. “I was about to jump in and not lis­ten to the end of your sen­tence, but I couldn’t come up with any­thing,” he says.

While Hoff­man is out­lin­ing his plans to live for an­other 50 years to fig­ure him­self out, San­dler says: “I still have no idea of who I am. One minute I say this and the next I say the com­plete op­po­site and I be­lieve them both. I don’t re­ally know what the hell the truth is with me yet.”

Hoff­man, who also starred op­po­site San­dler in 2014’s The Cob­bler, can’t re­sist a dry dig.

“I worked with Adam on a film be­fore this and I thought he was this close to know­ing ev­ery­thing about him­self and then a year later we are do­ing this and he has re­gressed.”

Take two: Dustin Hoff­man and Adam San­dler in their new film and (be­low) Hoff­man in Rain Man

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