According to Dustin Hoffman, “Tootsie” was never a comedy film to him. Instead the flick in which his character dresses as a woman to land a job was a testament to the women in the world that he ignored because they didn’t fit the ideal of a perfect woman he was unwittingly taught to look for.
In a clip from the AFI archives that was released at the end of 2012 but is surging to popularity now, Hoffman talks about how he asked the people working on “Tootsie” to make his character look more beautiful. When they said they’d made him as beautiful a woman as they could, he claims he had “an epiphany.”
“I went home and I started crying talking to my wife. I said, ‘I have to make this picture,’ and she said, ‘Why?'” Hoffman recalls. “I said, ‘Because I think I’m an interesting woman when I look at myself on the screen and I know that if I met myself at a party I would never talk to that character because she doesn’t fulfill physically the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out.’ She says, ‘What are you saying?'”
At this point, Hoffman starts crying and concludes, “I said, ‘There’s too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.’ That [‘Tootsie’] was never a comedy for me.”