Our movie critics share some notable encounters with Dustin Hoffman, Denis Leary and more

By EW Staff
April 16, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

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.