John Oliver Interrogated Dustin Hoffman About Sexual Harassment
The two reportedly got into a heated 15-minute exchange at a panel for a screening of one of Hoffman's films.
Photo of John Oliver by Mike Pont/Getty Images and Dustin Hoffman by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
On Monday, John Oliver got into a heated public debate with Dustin Hoffman about allegations of sexual harassment against the actor while he was moderating a panel at a screening of one of Hoffman's films, the Washington Post reports.
Oliver and Hoffman were sharing the stage at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, where they had gathered for a panel at the 20-year anniversary screening of Wag the Dog. Hoffman's co-star Robert De Niro was also onstage, along with director Barry Levinson and producer Jane Rosenthal.
The conversation reportedly began pretty mildly until Oliver brought up recent sexual harassment allegations against Hoffman he said were "hanging in the air." The Last Week Tonight host mentioned the allegations made by Anna Graham Hunter last month, who accused Hoffman of groping her and making inappropriate sexual comments while she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of Death of a Salesman.
"It's hanging in the air?" Hoffman asked. "From a few things you've read, you've made an incredible assumption about me."
Hoffman went on to deny groping Hunter and said he didn't remember meeting her. He emphasized the word "if" in relation to his public apology, in which he said he felt "terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation"—adding that the behavior in question "is not reflective of who I am."
"It’s 'not reflective of who I am'—it’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off," Oliver said. "It is reflective of who you were. If you’ve given no evidence to show it didn’t [happen], then there was a period of time for a while when you were a creeper around women. It feels like a cop-out to say, 'It wasn’t me.' Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?"
"It’s difficult to answer that question. You weren’t there," Hoffman said. “You made a judgment. A very quick judgment."
According to Deadline, the conversation continued on and off for about half an hour, with some audience outbursts peppered in. Even when the conversation veered back to the movie, Hoffman reportedly kept engaging with Oliver on the accusations, growing testy when the moderator read back a line Hunter wrote about Hoffman being "a pig." Hoffman later said he hadn't been told Oliver would bring up the allegations against him, and that he felt Oliver was unfairly "putting me on display" without warning, according to the Post.
"Do you believe this stuff you read?" Hoffman asked.
"I believe what she wrote, yes." Oliver said. "Because there’s no point in her lying.”
"Well, there’s a point in her not bringing it up for 40 years," Hoffman said.
While most of the exchange centered on Hunter, Oliver did bring up Katharine Ross, whom Hoffman reportedly pinched on the butt during a screen test for The Graduate. Hoffman has also been accused of propositioning producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis in a pitch meeting in 1991.
"I can’t leave certain things unaddressed," Oliver said. "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."
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