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Dustin Hoffman: ‘I was the most unlikely The Graduate leading man’


Dustin Hoffman still has a hard time understanding why he was cast as The Graduate’s leading man, because he’s nothing like the character in Charles Webb’s book.

The movie veteran played unlikely lady killer Benjamin Braddock in the 1967 classic, and during a new Tribeca Talks Directors Series chat in New York, the actor admits he has no idea what director Mike Nichols was thinking.

Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, The Graduate, United Artists, 040416
United Artists/Everett

“Why he cast me was maybe the most courageous thing a director in film has ever done,” Dustin says.

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“He cast me as this Robert Redford part. ‘Benjamin Braddock is six feet tall, blonde hair’ was what was written in the novel, and he went the other way!”

Hoffman also reveals the character was based on Nichols and he was, in fact, portraying the director in the film, during which he was seduced by Anne Bancroft’s Mrs. Robinson.

“I think a lot of people passed on the script,” he adds. “What Mike Nichols did was he was coming from a very personal place which I didn’t know until I read years later that Benjamin was his alter ego.”

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