Dustin Hoffman believes his career has been a ''freak accident''.

The 75-year-old actor - who shot to fame after starring in 'The Graduate' in 1967 - insists he ''barely survived'' his childhood and doesn't think he was ''meant'' to have a successful career because he was often referred to as a ''real loser'' during his schooldays.

When asked why he has waited so long to make his directorial debut in forthcoming film 'Quartet', he said: ''I don't think 35 to 40 years is that long to make this decision, if you have my demons ... I really believed I was a freak accident when I became famous after 'The Graduate'. It wasn't meant to be.

''I don't dislike myself, I've learned that I don't have any choice but to live with myself. But I do think, quite frankly, that you spend a lifetime trying to figure out who you are.

''My fantasy has been that when you die, you go to heaven and God tells you everything you thought that was correct about yourself.

''I couldn't fix my concentration in school. I think that was implanted in me because now there is nothing more that I love than reading and writing.

''In those days I was called a 'real kind of comedian', which in those days means, 'You're a real loser'.''

Dustin credits therapy for saving his life and insists his mother and father were so convinced they wanted to have a daughter instead of him following the birth of his older brother, they simply picked his name out of a magazine.

The 'Quartet' helmer - who was named after actor Dustin Farnham - said: ''I was the opposite of my brother. I know that maybe it started because my father and my mother wanted, and expected, a girl and I wasn't a girl and so they didn't even have a name for me. I think they picked my name out of a magazine.

''You learn later in therapy that you get your love from your parents for being what they want you to be.''