A starry anniversary discussion of the film Wag the Dog turned testy Monday when moderator John Oliver confronted Dustin Hoffman about allegations of sexual harassment.
Hoffman seemed blindsided and defensive by the line of questioning from the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight. Hoffman explained the accusation was 40 years old.
“I don’t love that response either,” Oliver said.
Hoffman shot back: “What response do you want?”
Hoffman maintained that he did nothing wrong.
Actress Anna Graham Hunter alleged this fall that Hoffman had groped her and made inappropriate comments when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV movie Death of a Salesman. He subsequently put out an apologetic statement saying he felt “terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation.”
Producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis has accused the actor of propositioning her in 1991, which he declined to comment on.
Hoffman himself has discussed an incident of inappropriate on-set behaviour with Katherine Ross, his co-star in The Graduate.
Hoffman had said in an earlier statement that the 1985 incident “is not reflective of who I am,” which Oliver seized on and called a “cop-out,” adding: “It is reflective of who you were.”
Hoffman complained: “You’ve put me on display here.”
John Oliver just went after Dustin Hoffman big time on sexual harassment at this Wag The Dog panel. Hoffman grew visibly uncomfortable. “You weren’t there,” he says to Oliver. “I’m happy I wasn’t,” Oliver replied.
The back-and-forth came at a 20th-anniversary screening panel at the 92nd Street Y. Onstage in addition to Oliver and Hoffman were Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal and director Barry Levinson.
Hoffman returned to the topic despite Oliver and Rosenthal’s attempts to move the conversation forward.
“I get no pleasure from having this conversation… But you and I are not the victims here,” Oliver said, referring to Hoffman.
“The easy way is not to bring anything up. Unfortunately that leaves me at home later at night hating myself. Why the…didn’t I say something? No one stands up to powerful men.”
The exchange was reported by The Washington Post, which also posted the video of part of the conversation.