Our movie critics share some notable encounters with Dustin Hoffman, Denis Leary and more
Only rarely do the people we cover get in touch about reviews of their projects, but it does happen. Here are a few memorable run-ins.
OWEN GLEIBERMAN I figured that Dustin Hoffman was calling to thank me for my rave review of Wag the Dog (1997). But I’d said that the character of a veteran Hollywood producer was ”pure Hoffman, a nervous egomaniac,” and Hoffman was upset that I seemed to be calling him a nervous egomaniac. I assured him I wasn’t, even as the call sort of established that he was. (I’m kidding, Dustin.)
LISA SCHWARZBAUM I did not care for the 2000 Jerry Bruckheimer-produced car smash Gone in 60 Seconds. And Linda, Bruckheimer’s wife, did not care for my review. So she sent me a popcorn tub filled with stones because, she said, who was I to throw stones at her husband’s work? The stones were smooth and round, and I mentioned in print that I liked them. So she sent me dirty, jagged stones as a chaser.
OWEN I knew Denis Leary casually in the early ’80s, and was cheered by his success as a comic. But once he broke into movies, I began to pan his punk-rant turns in com-edies like 1994’s The Ref. I honestly thought his acting was shticky, and Leary sent me a very angry note. I’m pleased to say I think he’s a much better actor now. I hope if we meet again, he’ll be less pissed off.
LISA Director Barry Levinson read anti-Semitism into my review of his sci-fi dud Sphere (1998), in which I inferred that Dustin Hoffman’s character was Jewish. (This ritual-literate bat mitzvah girl also called the sphere in question a matzo ball.) The filmmaker was so mad that two years later he made Liberty Heights, a pretty good movie about his Jewish roots in Baltimore.