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Critical of cinema, Dustin Hoffman says TV is at its best

MUMBAI: Criticising the current state of cinema, Oscar winning actor Dustin Hoffman has said that it is at its lowest point.

While directors are pressured to have shorter film shoots, television is at its best.

“I think right now, television is the best that it’s ever been, and I think it’s the worst that film has ever been, in the 50 years that I’ve been doing it, it’s the worst,” he told The Independent.

The criticism apparently came from the the increasing financial demands on directors to complete their films more quickly. Hoffman stated that such pressures weren’t there when he first started out in the industry.

“It’s hard to believe you can do good work for the little amount of money these days. We did ‘The Graduate’ and that film still sustains. It had a wonderful script that they spent three years on, and an exceptional director with an exceptional cast and crew, but it was a small movie, four walls and actors and yet it was 100 days of shooting,” he said.

Hoffman made his directorial debut in 2012 with ‘Quartet’, the British comedy drama starring Maggie Smith and Billy Connelly. He added he hadn’t yet found another project to get involved with.

“I’m looking at everything that comes to me, I’m not getting much as far as directing is concerned. I don’t think that has anything to do with whether you are good or not, it’s just about whether your films make money or not,” he told the newspaper.

Quartet’s musical theme offers a clue as to the actor-director’s true passion. He regretted failing to become a professional pianist rather than appearing on camera.

“I love it more than anything. But I can’t play well enough to make a living out of it. If God tapped me on the shoulder right now and said ‘no more acting, no more directing, but you can be a decent jazz pianist’ … I could never read music gracefully. I don’t have a good ear. I still want to do it. I would love to do it.”

Hoffman is currently starring in drama ‘The Choir’. He came to prominence in his role as Ben Braddock in ‘The Graduate’. From there, he went on to star in other box office hits like ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ and ‘Rain Man’, but he realizes how much of an anomaly he was.

“The truth is that you come full circle. I was a freak accident, so I got a lead that happened to be ‘The Graduate’ and it was like a light switch went on and I was an instant star. For most actors, you start by playing euphemistically called supporting roles, it’s not even the supporting role, it’s less than that and if you are lucky you build up to supporting roles and then to starring roles, and then you reach a certain age and unfortunately women usually reach it earlier, you are no longer the leading man, therefore you become the supporting actor, which many times is the mentor of the lead. That is full circle,” he told the daily.

Hoffman has started mentoring aspiring actors through MasterClass, a San Francisco-based company that allows anyone to pay $90 to receive 24 acting lessons from him.