Dustin Hoffman Doesn’t Know What Animal He Plays in ‘Kung Fu Panda’ — Find Out What Shifu Really Is!

Whoops! The Kung Fu Panda franchise has pulled in more than $1 billion at the box office, but one of its lead stars doesn’t even know the type of animal he plays. Dustin Hoffman made an appearance on the Today show on Tuesday, January 26, to talk about the upcoming third installment of the beloved animated film, in which he reprises his role as the wise Master Shifu. 

When Today anchor Matt Lauer asked what type of animal Master Shifu was, Hoffman, 78, looked slightly confused, admitting, “I’m not even sure … what is … Is it a raccoon?”

Off-camera a man can be heard telling him that Master Shifu is, in fact, a red panda.

“I’m a red panda?” he responds, skeptical.

Dustin Hoffman
Hoffman John Russo/Dreamworks

The films feature Po the panda (Jack Black), tiger Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), a praying mantis named Mantis (Seth Rogen), a snake named Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross).

Lucy Liu, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson and J.K. Simmons attend the premiere of DreamWorks Animation and Twentieth Century Fox's
Liu, Hoffman, Jolie, Black, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson and J.K. Simmons attend the premiere of DreamWorks Animation and Twentieth Century Fox's "Kung Fu Panda 3" on Jan. 16. Todd Williamson/Getty Images

The first two installments were nominated for Academy Awards for Best Animated Film, but two-time Oscar winner Hoffman also admitted there could have been even more triumphs in his celebrated career.

“I turned down many more brilliant things and more great directors than any actor I know,” he admitted, noting that the 1977 blockbuster Close Encounters of the Third Kind was one such film.

John Russo/Dreamworks

“I read it and when I finished it, I said, ‘That’s the best script I’ve ever read, and I’m not going to do it,’” he revealed. “I think I had a problem with success. I turned Woody Allen down. I turned Schindler’s List down. I turned [Federico] Fellini down, I turned [Ingmar] Bergman down.”

And despite his six-decade-long career, Hoffman doesn’t feel like a star.

“I finally have a sense of myself of priorities,” he said. “It doesn’t embarrass me to do good. I wasn’t afraid of being a star. [But] I did not deserve it.”

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