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Hoffman explained—or perhaps bragged about—the lengths to which he would go to capture his character’s worn-out, paranoid emotionality. He had been staying up all night and running in order to look exhausted. In response, Olivier, exasperated by his younger male colleague, deadpanned, “My dear boy, why don’t you try acting?”
It’s a great story that people have used to make fun of “method” acting, but in reality, Butler writes, Hoffman was going through a divorce and using his character as an excuse to burn the candle at both ends. Olivier, sensing that Hoffman was really suffering, “delivered his famous one-liner with avuncular affection in response.”
A few days ago I was working on my next book, the dreadful thing, pinning index cards to gigantic pieces of cardboard I had saved from the packaging of a few large IKEA wardrobes we put together over the holidays. You know the scene from TV and the movies. (Especially David Fincher movies.) A grizzled detective, standing in front of a “murder wall,” trying to piece together the story, and crack the case: