Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy-drama film, directed & co-produced by Sydney Pollack (who also stars in the film), starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Bill Murray, Charles Durning and Geena Davis (in her film debut).


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) is a respected but perfectionist actor. Nobody in New York wants to hire him anymore because he is difficult to work with. According to his long-suffering agent George Fields (Sydney Pollack), Michael's attention to detail and difficult reputation led a commercial he worked on to run significantly over-schedule, because the idea of a tomato sitting down was "illogical" to him.

After many months without a job, Michael hears of an opening on the popular daytime soap opera Southwest General from his friend and acting student Sandy Lester (Teri Garr), who tries out for the role of a hospital administrator Emily Kimberly but does not get it.

In desperation, and as a result of his agent telling him that "no one will hire you", Michael dresses as a woman, auditions as "Dorothy Michaels" and wins the part. He takes the job as a way to raise $8,000 to produce a play, written by his roommate Jeff Slater (Bill Murray) and to star Sandy, titled Return to Love Canal.

Michael plays his character as a feisty, feminist administrator, which surprises the other actors and crew who expected Emily to be (as written) another swooning female in the plot. His character quickly becomes a television sensation.

When Sandy catches Michael in her bedroom half undressed (he wanted to try on her clothes in order to get more ideas for Dorothy's outfits), he covers up by professing he wants to have sex with her. They have sex despite his better judgment about her self-esteem issues. Michael believes Sandy is too emotionally fragile to handle the truth about him winning the part, especially after noticing her strong resentment of Dorothy.

Their relationship, combined with his deception, complicates his now-busy schedule. Exacerbating matters further, he is strongly attracted to one of his co-stars, lovely, soft-spoken Julie Nichols (Jessica Lange), a single mother in an unhealthy relationship with the show's amoral, sexist director, Ron Carlisle (Dabney Coleman). At a party, when Michael (as himself) approaches Julie with a pick-up line that she had previously told Dorothy she would be receptive towards, she throws a drink in his face.

Later, as Dorothy when he makes tentative advances, Julie—having just ended her relationship with Ron per Dorothy's advice—confesses that she has feelings about Dorothy which confuse her, but is not emotionally ready to be in a romantic relationship with a woman.

Meanwhile, Dorothy has her own admirers to contend with: older cast member John Van Horn (George Gaynes) and Julie's widowed father Les (Charles Durning). Les proposes marriage, insisting Michael/Dorothy "think about it" before answering; he leaves immediately and returns home to find co-star John, who almost forces himself on Dorothy until Jeff walks in on them. John apologizes for intruding and leaves. The tipping point comes when, due to Dorothy's popularity, the show's producers want to extend her contract for another year. Michael finds a clever way to extricate himself.

When the cast is forced to perform the show live, he improvises a grand speech on camera, pulls off his wig and reveals that he is actually the character's twin brother who took her place to avenge her. Sandy and Les, who are all watching at home, react with the same level of shock as the cast and crew of the show, with the exception being Jeff, who simply remarks, "That is one nutty hospital!"

The revelation allows everybody a more-or-less graceful way out. Julie, however, is so outraged that she slugs him in the stomach in front of the cast once the cameras have stopped rolling before storming off.

Some weeks later, Michael is moving forward with producing Jeff's play. He awkwardly makes peace with Les in a bar, and Les shows tentative support for Michael's attraction to Julie.

Later, Michael waits for Julie outside the studio. Julie resists talking but finally admits she misses Dorothy. Michael confesses, "I was a better man with you as a woman than I ever was with a woman as a man." At that, she forgives him and they walk off, Julie asking him to lend her a dress.


  • Dustin Hoffman as Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels
  • Jessica Lange as Julie Nichols
  • Teri Garr as Sandra "Sandy" Lester
  • Dabney Coleman as Ron Carlisle
  • Charles Durning as Leslie "Les" Nichols
  • Bill Murray as Jeff Slater
  • Sydney Pollack as George Fields
  • George Gaynes as John Van Horn
  • Geena Davis as April Page
  • Doris Belack as Rita Marshall
  • Lynne Thigpen as Jo
  • Estelle Getty as Middle Aged Woman
  • Willy Switkes as Man at Cab
  • Tobin Bell as Waiter (uncredited)


In the 1970s, fashion company executive Charles Evans decided to get into movie-making. In 1995, he told the Los Angeles Times that he got into producing "because I enjoy movies very much. I have the time to do it. And I believe if done wisely, it can be a profitable business."

Playwright Don McGuire had written a play in the early 1970s about an unemployed male actor who cross-dresses in order to get jobs.

The play (which was titled "Would I Lie to You?") was shopped around Hollywood for several years until it came to the attention of comedian and actor Buddy Hackett in 1978. Hackett (interested in playing the role of the talent agent) showed the script to Evans& Evans purchased an option on the play.

The delays in the film's production forced Evans to renew the option once or twice

During 1979, Evans co-wrote a screenplay based on the film with director Dick Richards and screenwriter Bob Kaufman.

A few months into the writing process, Richards showed it to actor Dustin Hoffman, his partner in a company which bought and developed properties for development into films, but Hoffman wanted complete creative control and Evans agreed to remove himself from screenwriting tasks. Instead, Evans became a producer on the film, which was renamed "Tootsie".

Before Dustin Hoffman officially got involved in the movie, his role was previously offered to actors Peter Sellers and Michael Caine.

The film remained in development for an additional year as producers waited on a revised script.

As pre-production began, the film ran into additional delays when Dick Richards left the role of director due to "creative differences". He assumed the role of producer instead & was replaced as director by Hal Ashby, but he was subsequently forced to leave the project by Columbia Pictures due to the threat of legal action if his post-production commitments on Lookin' to Get Out were not fulfilled.

In November of 1981, Sydney Pollack signed on to the film as both director and producer as per the suggestion of Columbia

The idea of having Pollack play Dustin Hoffman's agent, George Fields, was Hoffman's. Originally, the role was supposed to be for Dabney Coleman, but Coleman ended up being cast as soap opera director, Ron Carlisle.

To prepare for his role, Dustin Hoffman watched the film "La Cage aux Folles" several times, visited the set of "General Hospital" for research and conducted extensive make-up tests. The producers hired a transvestite named Holly Woodlawn to coach him how to act like a man acting as a woman.

The filming dates for "Tootsie" took place from April 1st to August 28, 1982 in New York.

Dustin Hoffman's two-hour make-up preparations included shaving his legs, arms and the back of his fingers while in a sauna, taping back his facial skin to tighten his features and installing daintier-looking false teeth. Due to his 5:00 shadow, the makeup was unable to conceal it and he could only be filmed for 3 to 4 hours at a time.


Box Office

The movie topped the box office, grossing $5,540,470 during its opening weekend. Domestically, it made $177,200,000 and became the second-highest grossing film of 1982 after E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Critical Reception

"Tootsie" was given an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 43 reviews with an average rating of 7.7\10. It was given an audience score of 81%.

Roger Ebert praised the film, giving it 4 out of 4 stars, saying:

"Tootsie is the kind of Movie with a capital M that they used to make in the 1940s, when they weren't afraid to mix up absurdity with seriousness, social comment with farce, and a little heartfelt tenderness right in there with the laughs. This movie gets you coming and going...The movie also manages to make some lighthearted but well-aimed observations about sexism. It also pokes satirical fun at soap operas, New York show business agents and the Manhattan social pecking order".

Variety magazine called the film "remarkably funny" and "entirely convincing".

The Boston Globe called it "the funniest, most revealing comedy since Annie Hall".

Time magazine said, "It is not just the best comedy of the year; it is popular art on the way to becoming cultural artifact".


1983 Academy Awards

  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Jessica Lange (won)
  • Best Picture: Sydney Pollack & Dick Richards (nominated)
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Dustin Hoffman (nominated)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Teri Garr (nominated)
  • Best Director: Sydney Pollack (nominated)
  • Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Larry Gelbart (screenplay\story), Murray Schisgal (screenplay) & Don McGuire (story) (nominated)
  • Best Cinematography: Owen Roizman (nominated)
  • Best Sound: Arthur Piantadosi, Les Fresholtz and Dick Alexander (nominated)
  • Best Film Editing: Fredric and William Steinkamp (nominated)
  • Best Music, Original Song (for the song "It Might Be You"): Dave Grusin (music), Alan & Marilyn Bergman (lyrics) (nominated)

1983 Golden Globes Awards

  • Best Actor in a Motion Picture- Comedy\Musical: Dustin Hoffman (won)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role- Motion Picture: Jessica Lange (won)
  • Best Motion Picture- Comedy\Musical (nominated)
  • Best Director- Motion Picture: Sydney Pollack (nominated)
  • Best Screenplay- Motion Picture: Larry Gelbart & Murray Schisgal (nominated)

1984 BAFTA Awards

  • Best Actor: Dustin Hoffman (won)
  • Best Make Up Artist: Dorothy J. Pearl, George Masters, C. Romania Ford & Allen Weisinger (won)
  • Best Actress: Jessica Lange (nominated)
  • Best Screenplay- Adapted: Larry Gelbart & Murray Schisgal (nominated)
  • Best Costume Design: Ruth Morley (nominated)
  • Best Direction: Sydney Pollack (nominated)
  • Best Film: Sydney Pollack (nominated)
  • Best Original Song (for the song "Tootsie"): Dave Grusin, Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman (nominated)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Teri Garr (nominated)

1983 American Cinema Editors, USA

  • Best Edited Feature Film: Fredric and William Steinkamp (nominated)

1983 Bambi Awards

  • Film-International: Jessica Lange (won) (also for The Postman Always Rings Twice)

1983 Bodil Awards

  • Best Non-European Film (Bedste ikke-europæiske film): Sydney Pollack (won)

1983 Boston Society of Film Critics Awards

  • Best Actor: Dustin Hoffman (won)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Lange (won)

1984 César Awards, France

  • Best Foreign Film (Meilleur film étranger): Sydney Pollack (nominated)

1983 David di Donatello Awards

  • Best Foreign Actor (Migliore Attore Straniero): Dustin Hoffman (nominated)

1983 Directors Guild of America, USA 1983

  • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures: Sydney Pollack (nominated)

1984 Golden Screen, Germany

  • Golden Screen (won)

1984 Grammy Awards

  • Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special: Dave Grusin (nominated)

1982 Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Lange (won)

1984 Kinema Junpo Awards

  • Readers' Choice Award for Best Foreign Language Film: Sydney Pollack (won)

1982 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Screenplay: Larry Gelbart & Murray Schisgal (won)

1982 National Board of Review, USA

  • Top Ten Films (won)

1998 National Film Preservation Board, USA

  • National Film Registry (won)

1983 National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA

  • Best Film (won)
  • Best Actor: Dustin Hoffman (won)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Lange (won)
  • Best Screenplay: Murray Schisgal & Larry Gelbart (won)
  • Best Actress: Jessica Lange (2nd place) (also in the film "Frances")
  • Best Director: Sydney Pollack (2nd place)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Teri Garr (3rd place)

1982 New York Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Best Director: Sydney Pollack (won)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Lange (won)
  • Best Screenplay: Murray Schisgal and Larry Gelbart (won)
  • Best Film (2nd place)
  • Best Supporting Actor: George Gaynes (2nd place)
  • Best Actor: Dustin Hoffman (2nd place)

1983 Writers Guild of America, USA

  • Best Comedy Written for the Screen: Larry Gelbart & Murray Schisgal (won)

Theatrical Trailer


Tootsie Trailer