Hoffman, born in Los Angeles, Calif., burst on the acting scene in the late 1960s, specifically with Mike Nichols’ “The Graduate,” alongside the late Anne Bancroft.
Most recently, Hoffman appeared in the Netflix historical drama “Medici: Masters of Florence,” and his latest film, “The Meyerowitz Stories,” premiered at Cannes this spring. The meticulous and well-versed actor is also a two-time Academy Award Best Actor winner, for 1980’s “Kramer vs. Kramer” and 1988’s “Rain Man.”
Let’s take a look at some of the best projects on Hoffman’s filmography.
“The Graduate” (1967)
The movie that skyrocketed Hoffman to fame found him playing Benjamin Braddock, 21, a recent college graduate who’s come home to California to celebrate the achievement.
As it turns out, he’s seduced by an older woman, Bancroft’s Mrs. Robinson, but winds up falling for her daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross).
Adjusted for inflation, the film is considered the 22nd highest-ever grossing film in North America. It took in a whopping $104.9 million on a $3 million budget.
The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry and was placed at No. 8 in AFI’s 1998 ranking of 100 Years…100 Movies. It was bumped to No. 17 in 2007. Nichols took home a Best Director Oscar for his work, and the film earned six additional nominations.
“Midnight Cowboy” (1969)
This drama, brought to the silver screen by director John Schlesinger, paired Hoffman with Jon Voight, now another Hollywood A-lister.
The movie tells the story of Joe Buck (Voight), who comes to New York from Texas, only to find out he’s been getting “hustled.” Only until he meets, Ratso Rizzo (Hoffman). As the story progresses, the two grow closer — as business partners and friends. The film won three Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
“All the President’s Men” (1976)
Jump ahead just a few years and there comes perhaps the greatest political thriller of all time, based on the investigation of the Watergate scandal.
In the film, based on the book of the same name, Hoffman plays reporter Carl Bernstein, who is assigned to work with fellow reporter Bob Woodward (Robert Redford).
As the investigation deepens, Woodward connects the burglars of the Watergate complex to E. Howard Hunt, a former employee of the CIA, and President Richard Nixon’s Special Counsel Charles Colson.
Then, the pair utilize the anonymous source who became known as “Deep Throat” (Hal Holbrook). Layer by layer, the two reporters peel back the corruption that had taken place in the White House.
Directed by Alan J. Pakula, the film earned $70.6 million off a $1.5 million budget and is preserved in the National Film Registry. It won Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound and Best Supporting Actor (Jason Robards).
“Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979)
This drama, directed by Robert Benton, features Hoffman as Ted Kramer, a workaholic advertising executive who’s been given a new account — only to find that his wife Joanna (Meryl Streep), is leaving him. He’s left to raise his son, Billy (Justin Henry), alone.
Eventually Joanna resurfaces, but the film becomes a legal battle over the custody of their son.
“Kramer vs. Kramer” was a hit, earning $106.3 million off a $8 million budget. It also earned a whopping nine Academy Award nominations, winning five (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for Hoffman and Best Supporting Actress for Streep).
The Sydney Pollack-directed comedy was a smash hit for Hoffman, bringing in $177.2 million off a $21 million budget.
The film — featuring other stars like Bill Murray, Jessica Lange and Geena Davis — follows Michael Dorsey, an actor with a reputation in the business. And not for being a pleasant castmate. He decides to adopt a new identity as a woman so that he can find work once again.
The film took in 10 Oscar nominations. Lange won for Best Supporting Actress.
The film is preserved in the National Film Registry — and is considered one of Hoffman’s funniest. Pollack also makes an appearance as Dorsey’s truth-telling talent agent, George Fields.
“Rain Man” (1988)
Another dynamic role for Hoffman, the Barry Levinson-directed film “Rain Man,” found the actor playing Raymond “Ray” Babbitt, who suffers from savant syndrome — allowing him to excel in certain areas but be deficient in others.
Ray is greeted by his abrasive younger brother, Charlie (Tom Cruise), who as it happens has been duped by his late father. The Babbitt patriarch left a car and rose bushes to Charlie, while Ray earned most of the money. Charlie “kidnaps” Ray from the Walbrook Institute, and brings him to the West Coast as an attempt to earn his $3 million fortune.
The film was another success, earning $354.8 million off a $25 million budget. It was the highest-grossing movie of 1988. It won four Oscars as well, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Actor (for Hoffman). The crew earned four additional nominations.
The fantasy adventure film focuses on the adult version of Peter Pan (Peter Banning, played by Robin Williams). Peter is an unhappy workaholic lawyer with a family.
But Captain James Hook (Hoffman), an enemy from Peter’s storybook past, abducts his children. So, Peter sets off for Neverland to rescue them. As he does so, he sheds the rough exterior that had formed over the years.
While it received mixed reviews, it was still a commercial success, earning $300.9 million off a $70 million budget.
Hoffman’s unmistakable costume and delivery make “Hook” one of his more notable films.
“Meet the Fockers” (2004)
With this entry, from director Jay Roach, Hoffman displays more of his comedic side — in an unforgettable turn as Gaylord “Greg” Focker’s dad, Bernie.
Greg’s parents (his mom, Roz, is played by Barbra Streisand), are a sharp contrast to Pam Byrnes-Focker’s parents — played by the incomparable Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner.
Bernie is a fun-loving senior while Roz is a sex therapist for elderly couples.
Jack and Dina (Greg’s in-laws) travel to Miami to meet the Fockers, only to find out that the differences between the families are just startling.
While not necessarily a critical success, the film pulled in $516 million off an $80 million budget.
It won the 2005 MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance.
Written by Dan Gunderman for NY Daily News