Cinema: The Moonchild and the Fifth Beatle

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The sound of success reached Hollywood and Director Mike Nichols, who was then casting The Graduate. Summoned to Los Angeles for a screen test, Hoffman took a day off from Eh? and arrived at the studio the next morning, he says, "feeling awful. And paranoiac. I was sure the crew was asking, 'Jesus Christ, where'd they get him?' Everything Nichols told me to do, I did wrong." At one point, to prod some life into a love scene, he grabbed Actress Katharine Ross's buttocks and yanked her toward him. "When it was finally over I apologized to Nichols and to Katharine," Hoffman lugubriously remembers. "As I was putting on my coat to leave, a New York subway token fell out of my pocket. One of the crew picked it up and said, 'Here, kid, you're gonna need this.' "

Six days later, Nichols called Hoffman to tell him that he had won the part—which was to pay him a fast $17,000. "We're in business," he said. "You came up with just the kind of confused panic the character is supposed to have." The rest is mystery. Hoffman himself admits, "If The Graduate were better, it wouldn't have done as well." And neither would he. Today his film price is $425,000; for Jimmy Shine, he receives $4,500 a week against 10% of the gross receipts. But then, the cost of living has risen. The psychoanalyst that he started with four years ago used to charge him $3.50 an hour. His fees have risen considerably since then—and Hoffman sees him five days a week.

The anti-star occasionally flashes star temperament. Donald Driver, director of Jimmy Shine, remembers that "Dustin cut his finger on opening night in Baltimore. Long after it had healed, he insisted that the stage manager announce to the audience that Mr. Hoffman was appearing with a cut finger. It was a blatant bid for public sympathy." It also appears that Dustin never became too big to pick up small change. Jimmy Shine Producer Zev Bufman calls him "a hard bargainer who held us up for half the profits on the $1.00 souvenir programs because we didn't clear material about him, with him. Traditionally the money goes to the backers. The whole thing amounted to $100 a week."

Still, apart from the analysis, a new Greenwich Village apartment and a pool table, he remains a champion of inconspicuous consumption. The night of the Academy awards, Hoffman—nominated for The Graduate—called a friend, Actor Stanley Beck. "It was about 1 o'clock in the morning," says Beck. "The phone rang. It was Dusty. 'Hey, can you pick me up?' he says. There he is, out at the Academy awards the night he's been nominated for an Oscar, and he has no car, no driver, no place to sleep. I told him to take a cab and he could sleep in the living room. He came up, slept, left without making the bed, and I never saw him."

Four-Letter Incantation

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