Dustin Hoffman slapped Meryl Streep while filming 'Kramer vs. Kramer'

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It may have been the film that "launched [Meryl] Streep's legend," but the filming process for "Kramer vs. Kramer" was one of immense struggle, a struggle that eventually paid off in the form of Meryl Streep's first Academy Award in 1980.

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The cover story for Vanity Fair's April 2016 issue takes the form of an adaptation from Michael Shulman's soon-to-be-released biography of Meryl Streep titled Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep. The story focuses on the tense relationship between Streep and her costar, Dustin Hoffman -- a relationship that included physical altercation, emotional abuse and intimidation.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation to come from the story is one that addresses a stunt that Hoffman pulled before shooting a scene on the second day of filming. Before the camera started to roll, Hoffman allegedly slapped Streep across the face.

Dustin and Meryl took their positions on the other side of the apartment door. Then something happened that shocked not just Meryl but everyone on set. Right before their entrance, Dustin slapped her hard across the cheek, leaving a red mark.

Benton heard the slap and saw Meryl charge into the hallway. We're dead, he thought. The picture's dead. She's going to bring us up with the Screen Actors Guild. Instead, Meryl went on and acted the scene. Clutching Joanna's trench coat, she pleaded with Ted, "Don't make me go in there!" As far as she was concerned, she could conjure Joanna's distress without taking a smack to the face, but Dustin had taken extra measures. And he wasn't done.​

Hoffman also reportedly used other tactics to degrade Streep, including taunting her about personal matters that had nothing to do with the film:

Improvising his lines, Dustin delivered a slap of a different sort: outside the elevator, he started taunting Meryl about John Cazale, jabbing her with remarks about his cancer and his death. "He was goading her and provoking her," Fischoff recalled, "using stuff that he knew about her personal life and about John to get the response that he thought she should be giving in the performance."

Meryl, Fischoff said, went "absolutely white." She had done her work and thought through the part. And if Dustin wanted to use Method techniques like emotional recall, he should use them on himself. Not her.

For more details on the contentious set life of "Kramer vs. Kramer," read the full cover story from the April issue of Vanity Fair.

See photos of Meryl Streep through the years:

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Dustin Hoffman slapped Meryl Streep while filming 'Kramer vs. Kramer'
Meryl Streep, American actress born in Summit, New Jersey, who has starred and acted in many award-winning films. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
The American actress Meryl Streep. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Meryl Streep and baby son Henry during Meryl Streep Sighting at JFK Airport - January 9, 1980 at JFK Airport in New York, United States. (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
American actress Meryl Streep on the set of the film 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', 1980. (Photo by John Bulmer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Actress Meryl Streep attends the 'Into The Woods' world premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater on December 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
The bridesmaid Linda, played by Meryl Streep in a scene of The Deer Hunter by Michael Cimino, glances at John Cazale, guest to a Russian Wedding into an American Orthodox church together with Chuck Aspegren and Robert De Niro. Cleveland (USA), 1978. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Holocaust -- Aired 04/16/1978 - 04/19/1978 -- Pictured: Meryl Streep as Inga Helms Weiss (Photo by Jessica Burstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Meryl Streep and Husband Don Gummer during Woody Allen's New Years Eve Party at Harkness House in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - DECEMBER 17: Actress Meryl Streep attends the 'Kramer vs. Kramer' New York City Premiere on December 17, 1979 at Loews Astor Plaza in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Actress Meryl Streep is shown at the seventh annual Los Angeles Film Critics Awards dinner in Beverly Hills, Ca., on Jan. 13, 1982. Streep won the best actress award for her role in "The French Lieutenant's Woman." (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Meryl Streep during Wrap-Up Party for 'She-Devil' - July 7, 1989 at Caroline's Comedy Club in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
American actress Meryl Streep puts her hair back as she poses on the terrace of the Festival Palace, during the Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 13, 1989. Streep is promoting her recent picture "A Cry in the Dark." (AP Photo/Gilbert Tourte)
American actress Meryl Streep flashes a smile as she walks down the red carpet prior to the premiere screening of her latest motion picture "The Bridges of Madison County," at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif., May 30, 1995. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
NEW YORK CITY - NOVEMBER 9: Actress Meryl Streep attends the 'Dancing at Lughnasa' New York City Premiere on November 9, 1998 at Sony Theatres Lincoln Square in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Meryl Streep during Meryl Streep Receives 2,119th Walk of Fame Star - September 16, 1998 at Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
397358 01: Actress Meryl Streep arrives at the 11th Annual 'A Magical Evening' Gala November 12, 2001 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, NY. The benefit raises funds for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. (Photo by Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 10: Actress Meryl Streep enters the 'Late Show With David Letterman' taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on December 10, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Meryl Streep and Preston Whiteway attend the 14th annual Monte Cristo Award at The Edison Ballroom on April 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Honoree actress Meryl Streep attends the 14th annual Monte Cristo Award at The Edison Ballroom on April 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, IN - APRIL 16: Academy Award winner, Meryl Streep, received a Conferral Honorary Degree from Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie at Indiana University Auditorium on April 16, 2014 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Rob Marshall and Meryl Streep attend the The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences Hosts An Official Academy Members Screening Of INTO THE WOODS at The Academy Theatre at Lighthouse International on December 9, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)
LOWELL, MA - APRIL 01: Meryl Streep attends 'A Conversation With Meryl Streep' presented by the University of Massachusetts Lowell Chancellor's Speaker Series at Tsongas Center on April 1, 2014 in Lowell, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
LOWELL, MA - APRIL 01: Meryl Streep attends 'A Conversation With Meryl Streep' presented by the University of Massachusetts Lowell Chancellor's Speaker Series at Tsongas Center on April 1, 2014 in Lowell, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 05: (L-R) Don Gummer and actress Meryl Streep attend the 2014 The New York Philharmonic Spring Gala featuring 'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' at Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center on March 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Actress Meryl Streep attends the world premiere of 'Into the Woods' at Ziegfeld Theater on December 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Producer John DeLuca, producer Marc Platt, aniel Huttlestone, Meryl Streep and Ben Platt attend the world premiere of 'Into the Woods' at the Ziegfeld Theatre on December 8, 2014 in New York City. The stars came out for the world premiere of ÒInto the WoodsÓ on Monday, December 8, 2014 at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York. Director Rob Marshall, the all star cast including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Christine Baranski, Tracey Ullman andÊlegendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and writer James Lapine were all celebrating the cinematic event, bringing thehumorousÊand heartfelt musical to the screen. ÊÒInto the WoodsÓÊÊproduced by Rob Marshall, John DeLuca, Marc Platt and Callum McDougallÊopens in theaters nationwideÊon December 25, 2014. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 25: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Meryl Streep poses backstage at the hit musical 'The Last Ship' on Broadway at The Neil Simon Theater on November 25, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 09: Meryl Streep attends 'My Old Lady' Premiere at Museum of Modern Art on September 9, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)
US President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to actress Meryl Streep during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom is the country highest civilian honor. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Actresses Meryl Streep (L) and Marlo Thomas arrive for the Medal of Freedom presentation ceremony in the East Room of the White House on November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom is the country highest civilian honor. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 06: Actresses Diane Lane (L) and Meryl Streep attend the 2014 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Jane Fonda at the Dolby Theatre on June 5, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Tribute show airing Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 9pm ET/PT on TNT. (Photo by Michael Buckner/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 06: Actress Meryl Streep speaks onstage at the 2014 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Jane Fonda at the Dolby Theatre on June 5, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Tribute show airing Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 9pm ET/PT on TNT. (Photo by Michael Buckner/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 05: Actress Meryl Streep speaks onstage during the 2014 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Jane Fonda at the Dolby Theatre on June 5, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Tribute show airing Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 9pm ET/PT on TNT. (Photo by Kevin Winter/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 05: Actors Cameron Diaz (L) and Meryl Streep attend the 2014 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Jane Fonda at the Dolby Theatre on June 5, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Tribute show airing Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 9pm ET/PT on TNT. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Actress Meryl Streep accepts the 2014 Monte Cristo Award at the Edison Ballroom, on Monday, April 21, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Luiz C. Ribeiro/Invision/AP)
Meryl Streep attends the premiere of "Into The Woods" at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Meryl Streep, left, and Don Gummer arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Actress Meryl Streep attends the Sixth Annual Women in the World Summit opening night at David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
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