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Midnight Cowboy Behind the Scenes Details That Deserve an X-Rating

Without a doubt, one of the greatest Hollywood films of all time is Midnight Cowboy. Starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman and directed by John Schlesinger the film is over 50 years old and remains one of the best films ever made in America.

The film was also controversial for its depiction of themes that America was just getting comfortable with in 1969. The performances by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman are still hailed today as being some of the best acting performances in history.

But there are so many great stories that went on not just in front of the camera – but behind the camera.

Join FactsVerse to learn about Midnight Cowboy behind the scenes details that deserve an X-rating…


While Midnight Cowboy is over 50 years old it still seems just as fresh today as it did when it was released in 1969. Part of this is because its legacy lives on.

For example, there’s a bar in Austin, Texas named after the film. The bar is a speakeasy that was once raided by the FBI since it was operating an illegal massage parlor! The bar is open to this day and if you’d like to go – make sure you make a reservation as it gets quite packed.

Don’t be surprised if you see a few Joe Buck and Ratso look-a-likes! You’ll also meet fellow fans of the film who’d love to have a discussion about it.

It hasn’t been remade yet but there have been stage productions based on the film and the original novel. Chicago’s Lifetime Theater put on a stage adaptation of Midnight Cowboy in 2016.

The film has been referenced and spoofed many times. Most recently, it was mentioned in the film Me and Earl and The Dying Girl. Spike Lee has also often discussed his fondness for the film. Dustin Hoffman’s famous line – which we’ll discuss in just a moment – is considered to be one of the most memorable lines in the history of American cinema.

Do you remember the first time you watched Midnight Cowboy? If you haven’t seen it, you’ll see that the film still holds up today and doesn’t seem dated. That’s the mark of a great film and it seems that the cast and crew understood the fascinating story and why it would resonate with audiences.



Can you imagine anyone else but Dustin Hoffman screaming the now-famous line ‘I’m Walking Here!!!’ as the taxi almost hits him and Joe?

We certainly can’t and one of the most fascinating things about that scene is that it was improvised. The taxi driver wasn’t an actor and did almost hit the actors. Dustin Hoffman remained in character and screamed at the taxi driver – and this became one of the classic scenes in the film.

But we almost didn’t see Dustin Hoffman in the film. This was for several reasons – first, John Schlesinger wasn’t sure about working with Dustin Hoffman in the first place. At the time, Dustin Hoffman’s biggest role was Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate.

This goody-two-shoes and naïve character seemed to define who Dustin Hoffman was and it seemed that he wouldn’t have been appropriate for a darker role such as Ratso. In fact, even Dustin Hoffman himself wasn’t sure if he was meant for Ratso and even worried that if he did land the role, it would hurt his career rather than help it.

But after the urging from his acting pals Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall, John Schlesigner gave more attention to Dustin Hoffman and attended his off-Broadway theater performances. He realized that Dustin Hoffman had a range that went beyond The Graduate.

He finally decided to cast Dustin Hoffman and we’re glad he did. And of course, Dustin Hoffman was made to play Ratso.

And in fact, Mike Nichols, who directed The Graduate tried hard to dissuade Dustin Hoffman from playing Ratso. He warned that it wouldn’t bring him much attention since he was playing a supporting role next to Jon Voight and he also expressed his distaste for the character of Ratso. Luckily, Dustin Hoffman realized he wanted to be a character actor and experiment with interesting roles.

Before we tell you more about a few Midnight Cowboy behind the scenes details that deserve an X-Rating, please like this video and subscribe to FactsVerse for more interesting stories about pop culture and your favorite celebrities and more fascinating biopics! Now, let’s get back to the video…



In fact, not only did we not only not see Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy but we almost didn’t see Jon Voight either!

Joe Buck was originally going to be played by the actor Michael Sarrazin. He appeared in the film They Shoot Horses Don’t’ They? and was perhaps the better-known actor – at the time – when compared to Jon Voight.

However, Michael Sarrazin was eventually fired when he demanded to be paid more money for the film. Jon Voight was the second choice and was even willing to work for lower pay than normal to take on the role.

Jon Voight was thrilled to receive the role and often felt worried that he would not receive it. He must have predicted that it would be the role of a lifetime and one that he’d be remembered for – for the entirety of his great career.

And while Dustin Hoffman had a few doubts about his character and the dark themes of the film – Jon Voight, somehow, knew the film would be a classic. Perhaps this confidence is why he hasn’t shied away from darker roles or challenging films. And indeed, Midnight Cowboy was a huge hit upon its release. The film cost $3.6 million to make and grossed over $44 million!

It won three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Both Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman were nominated for their performances.



While Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate was a great role, one imagines that Dustin Hoffmann didn’t have to go above and beyond for the role. However, with Dustin Hoffman, he pushed himself – something he would later become famous for.

The character of Ratso became noted for his limp. To maintain his limp, Dustin Hoffman kept a pebble in his shoes at all times. The discomfort caused him to constantly walk with a limp at all times while acting.

While we’re quite used to actors taking such lengths today, this was still relatively rare in the 1960s. Dustin Hoffman paved the way for many method actors starting with this film.


While Hollywood is quite open about depicting homosexuality today, it was still taboo – even with the changing attitudes of the 1960s. Some of the most controversial moments in the film was the suggestion of Joe Buck’s sexuality as well as the love scene between Jon Voight and Bob Balaban.

But one of the behind the scenes details which you may not know about is that the director, John Schlesinger came out of the closet while making the film. Perhaps working on such a film made him comfortable with being open about his sexuality.

Since then he went to make other films with such themes such as the now-classic Sunday Bloody Sunday.

In fact, it was during the making of this film that John Schlesinger fell in love with one of his assistants, Michael Childers. He was afraid if the crew found out of the relationship they might not take John as seriously. But Michael assured him that he was the boss and he had authority no matter what!


While Midnight Cowboy can easily be considered to be one of the greatest American films ever made, the director, John Schlesinger was British! The film was rather artistic and went against the usual Hollywood grain – something that was becoming more popular in the 1960s and the 1970s.

This type of artistic filmmaking was already popular in Europe and the UK had become famous for its kitchen-sink realism. A British take on an American story was needed to move away from the usual Hollywood flare.


We must remember that Midnight Cowboy broke many taboos for the time and had themes which are perhaps not as taboo today.

And yet, John Schlesinger had mentioned in an interview in the year 2000, that he felt Midnight Cowboy was of its time and wouldn’t work today.

Perhaps in 2022, its even less likely to get made. While some of the themes aren’t as controversial, it’s clear that filmmakers and actors alike aren’t as bold as they used to be. We should be glad that Midnight Cowboy was made and we only wish filmmakers of today would be just as bold.

So, now let’s hear from you:

Are you a fan of Midnight Cowboy? Did you know any of these fascinating behind the scenes details about the film?

In fact, here’s what we want to know from you:

Do you think that the story of Midnight Cowboy could be made in today’s social climate?

Or have our tastes changed so much that audiences today wouldn’t appreciate the film?

Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

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