Dustin Hoffman became a ''movie star'' by ''freak accident''.

The 77-year-old two-time Oscar winner believes it was by complete chance that he made a name for himself as a Hollywood legend along with his close pals Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall.

The 'Rain Man' star - who moved to New York in the '50s from Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting after failing in school - formed a friendship with Hackman, 85, after they met at Pasadena Playhouse and Duvall, 84, soon joined the mix as the trio tried to find their big breaks.

He said: ''If someone had said to the three of us that we were going to be successful movie stars, everyone would have laughed. It's kind of a freak accident that it happened to all three of us.

''I had been flunking junior college and someone said try acting, because nobody flunks acting. And Gene and I became friends. We didn't like anyone else. No one told me I was a good actor, no one told Gene, and then there was a third person - Robert Duvall - and we hung out together. They're both much, much older than me though.''

Hackman retired from the industry 11 years ago and Dustin - who was cast opposite him in his final film 'Runaway Jury, where they played legal opponents battling it out over their final case - was thrilled to spend his last movie-making moments together.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Dustin recalled how the pair got ''drunk'' and discussed their worries about the longevity of their careers.

He said: ''When they cast that, they didn't even know we knew each other for 50 years! They put a 10-minute scene in at the end of the movie to take advantage of that fact.

''After the last day of shooting we went to a bar. Hackman said, 'Let's get drunk.' And we started drinking. He looked me right in the eye and said, 'Do you get the same feeling I get at the end of a film ... as if you're never going to work again?'

''We worry about the next thing. They say you're only as good as your last picture. Well we only think we're as good as our last piece of work.''