Here’s to you, birthday boy! Dustin Hoffman just rang in the big 8-0 on Tuesday, Aug. 8, and we can’t believe how fast time has flown. It seems like just yesterday that Dustin burst onto the acting scene as 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock in the 1967 classic The Graduate.
At the time, Dustin was eager to solidify himself as a leading man in Hollywood. “He was complaining about how I was making more money than he was,” William Daniels, who played his father in The Graduate, recalls to Closer. “I said, ‘OK, you can have my part and my money, and I’ll take your part and your money.’ He laughed, grumbled a bit, and let it go.”
Dustin, as Benjamin Braddock, in The Graduate, directed by Mike Nichols, 1967.
Fifty years later, Dustin has indeed cemented his place in showbiz as one of the most influential actors of his generation. Not only is his acting career still flourishing — he recently starred in Netflix’s critically acclaimed film The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) — but he looks handsome as ever.
“I don’t like the fact that I have to get older so fast. But I like the fact that I’m aging so well,” Dustin has joked in the past. Throughout his time in the spotlight, the Oscar-winning actor — who appeared in hits such as Rain Man and Kramer vs. Kramer — has gracefully segued into playing supporting roles, like Ben Stiller’s father in Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers.
Though many actors and actresses’ pride would get in the way of taking on smaller roles as they grow older, Dustin has learned to have zero shame. “Many stars don’t want to make that transition — they see it as a sign of symbolic impotence,” he has admitted. “But I love acting, and I do what I want to do.”
Dustin and Kevin Bacon in 2005.
Naturally, Dustin has inspired many notable names in the industry, including Kevin Bacon. “When I saw Dustin in Midnight Cowboy, I was like, ‘Wow, they got a homeless guy to be in a movie!’ ” the Footloose star, 59, tells Closer. “Then I saw him in The Graduate and went, ‘Holy s–t, that’s the same guy!’ That, to me, is what being an actor is.”
Jon Voight, who starred in 1969’s Midnight Cowboy with Dustin, will attest to his brilliance. “The word on the street was this guy’s a genius,” Angelina Jolie’s 78-year-old dad tells Closer. “And I found out he was.”