Dustin Hoffman Comes Full, Santa Monica Circle

Actor's return to a college campus leads to some fun circa-1956 memories.

The year was 1956. As a Southern California student fresh out of high school, Dustin Hoffman was struggling at what was then called Santa Monica City College. Until someone suggested he look into taking an acting course.

Hoffman couldn’t help but reminisce during an interview with Elvis Mitchell for weekly KCRW-FM radio show The Treatment, since the pair were sitting in the basement of a building on the very same Santa Monica campus:

“I went here because I was such a bad student. They had to sweep me out of high school… I was the one who always flunked everything, and then took the same thing the second time, and begged the teacher to give me a ‘C.'”

“I think James Dean had preceded me here. But I had not thought about acting. I wanted to play jazz piano. I was a music major. And my friend said, ‘Take an acting course.’ And I replied, ‘Why? I’m not interested in acting.'”

“And my friend said: ‘But you get three credits, and they won’t flunk you. It’s kind of like gym.'”

Hoffman’s principal reason for dropping by The Treatment was to talk about his participation in a new Bay Area startup, MasterClass, started by – fittingly enough – David Rogier, a former classmate of his daughter Rebecca at nearby Crossroads high school. Listen to the rest of the conversation here for vivid stories about Midnight Cowboy, the impact on Hoffman of Rebel Without a Cause and the two-time Oscar-winner’s memories of one particular Steiger-Brando scene in On the Waterfront.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
Morgan Freeman Misses Working With Gene Hackman