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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'Tootsie' (1982)

Question: What do you do when you're a broke New York actor and can't get a job because you're so difficult? Answer: Invent a female alter-ego and go out for a popular daytime soap opera. The novelty notion of seeing Hoffman done up in drag might have been enough to get an audience into the theater ... but that's not why this is considered one of the best comedies of the 1980s (even though the star didn't consider it a comedy) and one of the actor's best performances. His character Michael Dorsey playing a man playing a woman playing a fictional hospital administrator, and Hoffman allows you see how the transformative experience of becoming Dorothy Michaels makes him not just a "better man" but a more sympathetic human being. All this, and it's hilarious too – easily the strongest showcase for the star's comic timing since The Graduate. And anyone who worked with him during that period will probably whistle faux-innocently if you ask them whether Hoffman's "A tomato wouldn't sit down!" argument in his agent's office is drawn from real life.

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