Dustin Hoffman has joined the increasing number of film veterans who’ve come out saying that television is currently in a far healthier — and more compelling place — than film. In an interview with The Independent, the 77-year-old actor — who’s also taken to directing in recent years — said, “I think right now television is the best that it’s ever been. And I think that it’s the worst that film has ever been – in the 50 years that I’ve been doing it, it’s the worst.”
He blames it in part on drastically shortened shooting schedules (due to budgetary limitations) in today’s moviemaking world, especially for smaller films — restrictions that directors like David Lynch and John Waters have bemoaned, and which have led them to stop directing films, at least for now. According to The Independent, “most films today, away from the comic strip or robot adaptations, are made in around 20 days.” Hoffman said:
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, that is all, and yet it was 100 days of shooting.
Hoffman also noted the disheartening “full circle” trajectory of actors’ careers due in part to Hollywood’s ageism:
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, and 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.
Opinions on film’s decline are ubiquitous, but hearing “it’s the worst film has ever been” from assorted critics somehow doesn’t hit quite as hard as from someone whose face and voice themselves are so engrained in cinematic history — even if, on a rare occasion, it was a part of cinematic history you’d rather forget.