Actress Geena Davis revealed a piece of advice she got from veteran actor Dustin Hoffman on the set of their 1982 film “Tootsie” — and how she later used it to rebuff the advances of an amorous Jack Nicholson.
The “Beetlejuice” actress explained — during an interview with The New Yorker that was published on Thursday — that Hoffman, who had been acting for years before she came onto the scene, had offered her several pieces of advice while they were filming together.
Davis explained that up to that point, she had been modeling — and she just happened to land her first role in “Tootsie” after her modeling agents gave her name to the people casting the film.
“So I go to audition, and they said, ‘Wear a bathing suit under your clothes. In case you read well, they’re going to want to see you in a bathing suit.’ And so I read with, like, an assistant casting director and a video camera, and she said, ‘O.K., thank you.’ And I left. I was, like, Well, that’s fine. I didn’t do well enough. Plus, it was my first audition ever—what are the odds I’m going to get in a movie with Dustin Hoffman?” Davis recalled.
But director Sydney Pollack did like her, and she landed the role opposite Hoffman — who advised her, among other things, to not sleep with her co-stars. He even gave her a boilerplate line to use if she ever found herself in a position where she had to turn someone down, saying, “Say, ‘Well, you’re very attractive. I would love to, but it would ruin the sexual tension between us.’”
“And I saved that advice away,” Davis explained. “After ‘Tootsie,’ my modeling agent took me and a couple of other actor-slash-models to Hollywood to meet casting directors. He happened to know Jack Nicholson, and every single night Jack Nicholson had dinner with us. Then one day there was a note under the door that said, ‘Please call Jack Nicholson at this number.’”
“I was like, I can’t believe it! So I said, ‘Hello, Mr. Nicholson. This is Geena the model. You called me?’ He said, ‘Hey, Geena. When is it gonna happen?’ I was, like, Oh, no—why didn’t I realize this is what it was going to be about?” Davis continued. “But it immediately came into my head what to say: ‘Uh, Jack, I would love to. You’re very attractive. But I have a feeling we’re going to work together at some point in the future, and I would hate to have ruined the sexual tension between us.’ He was, like, ‘Oh, man, where’d you get that?’ So it worked.”