By the time actress Anne Bancroft landed the role of Mrs. Robinson opposite unknown actor Dustin Hoffman, she was already a household name. After her smoldering performance in The Graduate, however, Bancroft became a bonafide Hollywood icon. But while the wildly seductive role (and the fame that followed) may seem like a dream come true, it did have its downfalls.
Whether it was the fear of filming physical scenes with unknown actor Dustin Hoffman, or the sheer amount of press that followed, playing Mrs. Robinson wasn’t always a walk in the park. So how did Anne Bancroft land the iconic role? And what were some of the problems she ran into before and after filming? Let’s find out!
Years after the film came out, producer Lawrence Turman said that he could sign Anne Bancroft at a reasonable price, meaning that she didn’t have the star power or salary of a more established actress like Elizabeth Taylor. Turman had a star-studded list of actresses to choose from. He looked at Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, and Ava Gardner to fill the role of Mrs. Robinson.
He even considered Doris Day, but her husband and manager Martin Melcher thought that the role was too dirty for America’s Sweetheart. But there was something about Anne Bancroft’s way of making audiences feel Mrs. Robinson’s inner pain that landed her the role. And while the Graduate catapulted Bancroft into the limelight (and every man’s dream), it wasn’t always easy.
Playing a symbol like Mrs. Robinson had its difficulties. For starters, there were some scenes that required nudity. But when the day came for Bancroft to film these scenes, she got cold feet and had to have her body double step in. It wasn’t just the difficult scenes that the actress had a problem with. She also had to deal with being typecast.
After The Graduate, Bancroft stayed away from roles that were similar to Mrs. Robinson, but all critics and fans wanted to talk about was her role as an adulteress. “She got kind of tired over the years because she did a lot of good roles, journalist Douglass Daniel said. “But Mrs. Robinson hovered over everything because she did it so well, and the movie was so popular.”