34 years later, Sydney Pollack’s “Tootsie” remains a relatively incisive look at gender in society, even if the film’s concluding reaffirmation of traditional roles has aged less well than the questions the films poses before it. Yet a lost behind-the-scenes featurette reveals the production of “Tootsie” as fighting for identity itself.
The video centers on a confessional interview with Pollack on the set of the film that airs out his grievances of working with lead Dustin Hoffman.
“Legally I have control of the picture. But that doesn’t mean I owe him a lot morally, which I do,” he says. “You can’t make an actor do anything. Make him do anything. Now, I can’t direct a scene I don’t believe in either, and sometimes both things have happened.”
The interview centers around a scene Pollack and Hoffman had recently shot, the now-famous moment where Michael Dorsey as Tootsie beats a man with her bag for jumping in a cab she hailed first. Pollack wanted to play it seriously, and Hoffman wanted it to be a laugh moment. We then see how both scenes were filmed, knowing exactly which take was going to be used.
“That’s a scene I thought of originally because I wanted him victimized because he had the skirt on. Dustin came in and wanted to pull the guy out of the cab and beat him up. They’re two different movies. You look at the two and say ‘Well, what do you do?”‘
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The creative disagreements on set were so prominent, even supporting player Bill Murray chimed in, joking about the stresses of working around this much arguing.
“They’re in an ugly mood,” said Murray. “I never realized they got up early when they didn’t feel like getting up… this is a challenge, to have everyone really upset with you.”
Watch the video below.