The Best of Dustin Hoffman: 20 Essential Roles

From 'The Graduate' to 'The Simpsons,' looking back on the best of the actor's big-screen and small-screen work

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'Papillon' (1973)

Hoffman's character in this seminal based-on-a-true-story prison-break drama – the forger Louis Dega – is merely a blip in the autobiography of French convict Henri Charrière; because the film's producers wanted another marquee-level name next to Steve McQueen in the film, they decided to flesh out the sidekick role to get the actor on board. A smart move all around: It's impossible to imagine this classic film without Hoffman playing the beta to McQueen's alpha, who's protected by the gent with the butterfly tattoo and who helps facilitate a way off of the "inescapable" penal colony Devil's Island. The actor has said he based some of the mousy Dega's tics on Max Trumbo, the famed screenwriter brought in to make the part meatier. That heartwrenching goodbye scene, however, is all Hoffman. 

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