Editorial: While being interviewed by Diane Sawyer on GMA Friday, she played a clip of a duet between he and Bette Midler singing and playing a song they wrote together and then debuted on Bette’s Emmy-winning special, “Ol Red Hair is Back”. Turns out Mr. Hoffman was a jazz pianist first before becoming an actor. Who knew? Anyway, he is out promoting his new movie, “Moonlight Mile” with Susan Sarandon.
HOFFMAN: People talk about closure I don’t think it exists. I think it’s a wish. What we really want and need is something to let it in, and one gets emotional thinking about things like that. But to allow it to be a part of the history, of the fabric of your own life, because there ain’t no closure.
SAWYER: What took you most by surprise at the loss of your parents?
HOFFMAN: I think what they never prepare you for, what you’re never told is that it hits you out of nowhere. You’re walking down the street. You can be in a good mood. You turn the corner, and it’s like you’re standing there in front of people, you know, crying. Something surfaces.
SAWYER: And it’s never the thing you think will
HOFFMAN: (laughing) Aren’t we supposed to be getting some laughs?
SAWYER VOICE OVER TAPE: A 44-year career that began when a jazz piano player braved wounding rejections trying to become an actor.
SAWYER: I was reading here that you said that you would go to casting call after casting call, and they would tell you you’re not good-looking, that you’re the character juvenile. They say this to you when you go in?
HOFFMAN: It’s worse than that. “Character juvenile” meant you’re the ugly friend to the good-looking, you know, ingenue or the good-looking juvenile.
SAWYER VOICE OVER TAPE: Time for true confessions. My husband Mike Nichols decided to bypass the conventional pretty boys and cast Hoffman, still a relative unknown, as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate.
HOFFMAN: Mike said, tell me about the first time you had sex, any kind of sex. I said, well, the first kind of anything, I was going to play the piano in a vaudeville show in seventh grade in junior high school. And there was this girl who was in blackface because she was going to imitate Al Jolson. And we were both sitting backstage in a corner. And we liked each other and we started to make out. And it was the first breast I ever touched. But there had to be a distance or I’d get her blackface on me (laughing). (Refers to scene in The Graduate) Anne Bancroft at that moment started to pick a stain out of her sweater like she didn’t even know that my hand was on her.
SAWYER VOICE ON TAPE: Flash forward to Moonlight Mile. For the first time he’s working with a friend of 23 years, Susan Sarandon, a woman he says he might have married in another life.
SAWYER: And did you feel like an old married couple?
HOFFMAN: Yeah, it was very strange. Something about Susan I think, timing different, whatever, we could have been a couple.
SAWYER VOICE OVER TAPE: In the movie, they are old friends and lovers, funny and complicated like the song the old jazz pianist wrote once with Bette Midler: So how you doin’ it goes gee you’re looking good. Before he left, we had a surprise for him — a tape from 1977 (Tape of Hoffman playing piano with Midler singing). His reaction? Like his new movie, a momentary tear and then a smile.
SAWYER: Look at you! What are you thinking?
HOFFMAN: What you said before, an actor’s supposed to be in touch with their feelings. The first thing I found myself doing, wishing I can get back, let me see if I can look that young for the rest of the interview.