Career Peak – The point in an actor, actress or director’s career when they have given their best performance, reaching a point they will probably never match again!
The idea is to examine a person’s film or television career and decide when their career peak was; the moment that they gave their best performance or produced their best work. This could be with their first movie; it could also be yet to come. It’s designed to spark friendly debate too so if you don’t agree (or do, which would also be good) then feel free to check them out and add your opinion.
After watching The Graduate, it made me wonder if Dustin Hoffman has ever given a performance as good as his turn as Benjamin Braddock. It also made me wonder if Hoffman has reached the best of his career or whether the 78 year old actor still has his best performance in him. Analysing his career, which is an impressive one, it is clear which of his movies reaches is Hoffman’s peak;
Dustin Hoffman – Career Peak: Rain Man
Rain Man isn’t Dustin Hoffman’s career peak because of the performance alone. Of course, this plays a part and arguably it is the best Hoffman has been in his whole career. His transformation into a man who is autistic is stunning and one that still holds true today, probably inspiring the career directions of actors like Eddie Redmayne.
It is also because this was the truly last time Hoffman stole the whole movie and commanded the limelight. As his career went on, Hoffman begins to take the backseat, supporting the movie rather than necessarily starring in it. It is a strange choice as before Rain Man, Hoffman was the star of some impressive movies, with his performance matching the quality.
His first major role in The Graduate demonstrated both his dramatic and comedic talents, something he would show again in Tootsie, while he even played an action star in films like Straw Dogs and Marathon Man. He was never too far away from the dramatic roles though, especially alongside Robert Redford in All the President’s Men.
After Rain Man, with a few not particularly memorable roles, Hoffman has supported the movie and made his presence known without taking the reigns completely. There are exceptions like Outbreak and Last Chance Harvey but he is more impressive in movies such as Hook (where he wasn’t technically the star) or Runaway Jury. He even returned to comedy and upstaged Robert De Niro in Meet the Fockers.
Recently Hoffman has understandably taken even more of a backseat. He was impressive in Esio Trot for the BBC but didn’t necessarily have to stretch his acting muscles like he did in Rain Man, while The Program or The Cobbler saw him lend acting class to movies where he isn’t the star.
Overall, Dustin Hoffman has had an impressive career with incredible movies but never topped his performance in Rain Man and it seemed he didn’t really want to. Some slight exceptions but generally, Hoffman was a good support to the movie, lending some heavyweight acting talent when needed and demonstrating that you can still be a movie legend without leading every film from the front.