All around the world this weekend, we will find people doing difficult things. Sporting enthusiasts, pushing themselves to the very limit of their ability and endurance, seeking the pleasure of personal progress. Problem solvers and puzzle fans, stretching their brains in fresh ways. Creative artists striving to come up with new material. They will all be working hard, but largely they will be enjoying themselves in the process. To be successful in rising to your current challenge, you must see it from a perspective like this.
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"Dustin Hoffman changed the way actors were perceived and what they were allowed to do," says American Film Institute chair Tom Pollock. "He was not an obvious leading man, yet he's been an exceptional one."
Dustin Lee Hoffman was born on 8 August, 1937, in Los Angeles. He attended the LA Conservatory of Music and Arts, and in 1955,enrolled at Santa Monica City College to pursue a career as a jazz pianist.
He soon found himself switching paths to drama, however, although not as a result of his love for the craft. "I was flunking out," he says. "I only took acting because my friend said there was this class which was only three credits and nobody flunks acting."
While he only lasted a year at the college before dropping out, he had caught the acting bug and in 1961 made his Broadway stage debut and scored his first TV appearance in an episode of the series Naked City. The next few years were spent treading the boards in New York, both on and off Broadway, and doing occasional TV work until he made his feature acting debut in The Tiger Makes Out in 1967.
That same year his role in The Graduate forever altered the stereotype of a Hollywood leading man and made Dustin an instant icon. In addition to his $17,000 salary, he also earned his first Oscar nomination – quite an impressive accomplishment for a guy who once wouldn't even audition for a lead role.
"You begin to believe what is said if it's said enough times," he explains. "You go into casting offices and they keep telling you that you're not good-looking, that you're, to put it kindly, a 'character juvenile'. That means you're not the lead. That means you're the funny-looking sidekick."
Hollywood should be thankful Dustin refused to be overwhelmed by pretty boy pressure as he went on to give some of the most acclaimed performances in the history of film. His role in the Sixties hustler classic Midnight Cowboy earned him his second Best Actor Oscar nomination in 1969.
During the Seventies he was short-listed twice in Oscar nominations for 1974's Lenny and won a Best Actor gong for 1979's Kramer Vs Kramer. On a hot streak, he was in the running again in 1982 for Tootsie, in which he spent most of his time dressed as a woman.