Meryl Streep Says Dustin Hoffman Slapped Her Without Permission in 'Kramer vs. Kramer'

Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer

Among the many topics discussed in a wide-ranging interview for the New York Times, Meryl Streep commented on the infamous slap she received from Dustin Hoffman while filming the Academy Award-winning Kramer vs. Kramer.

Streep told the Times that the slap happened when the two were making Kramer vs. Kramer. "This is tricky because when you’re an actor, you’re in a scene, you have to feel free," Streep said. "I’m sure that I have inadvertently hurt people in physical scenes. But there’s a certain amount of forgiveness in that. But this was my first movie, and it was my first take in my first movie, and he just slapped me. And you see it in the movie. It was overstepping. But I think those things are being corrected in this moment. And they’re not politically corrected; they’re fixed. They will be fixed, because people won’t accept it anymore. So that’s a good thing."

Long respected in the world of film, TV, and theatre, Dustin Hoffman is in the middle of having his reputation destroyed and his story in the history of the entertainment industry rewritten. Several women have come forward and accused Hoffman of sexual misconduct. While paling in comparison to the accusations of sexual assault, the discussion about the on-screen slap will have far-reaching implications for Hoffman's legacy because of Meryl Streep's voice.

Regardless of what you think of Streep's politics, she's not wrong to call out Dustin Hoffman, even after so many years.

First off, conservatives, especially Christians, should take violence against women seriously. The abuse and objectification that women endure at the hands of powerful men (liberal or otherwise) is despicable. Hoffman's slap of Streep, while not on the same level of severity as sexual assault, as I mentioned, is evidence that Dustin Hoffman feels entitled and is prone to using his position to take advantage of subordinates.

Kramer vs. Kramer was Streep's first major film role. In other words, she was just happy to be there and hoping that she didn't screw it up. Getting one shot is hard enough; getting another shot in Hollywood after messing up the first shot is a luxury that actors can not count on. I completely understand why Streep didn't say anything when Hoffman slapped her. I also understand why she's saying something now.

Those who will claim that Streep should just suck it up because that's part of the job of acting are 100 percent wrong. Being actually slapped is the antithesis of acting; it's not acting. It would have been acting had Hoffman not slapped Streep with Streep acting like she'd been slapped.

When I played Tybalt in a production of Romeo & Juliet, I didn't actually get fatally stabbed with a sword; I acted like I had been fatally stabbed.

What's more, Hoffman actually slapping her without warning violates rules of acting and stage combat.

Every acting teacher and coach that I had as well as every stage combat teacher that I had stressed that you always get permission from your scene partner before incorporating any physicality into the scene. You do not put your hands, or any other body part, on your scene partner, male or female, unless you've received permission from him or her. When I taught acting, I stressed that rule. When I worked as a director, I insisted on adherence to the rule.

Common sense dictates that it's impolite, at the least, to manhandle or paw at someone without permission. Failing to discuss the "acting choice" with your scene partner also brings with it the risk of inadvertently hurting someone. Your scene partner might have an undisclosed injury that you exacerbate by your "acting choice."

By choosing to actually slap an unknown actress, Dustin Hoffman proved that he believed that he was above the rules. His overall pattern of behavior demonstrates that, like many other famous men, Hoffman believes that everyone else exists for his benefit.