In a public Q&A, Dustin Hoffman and John Oliver became involved in a heated debate over harassment allegations against the actor.
Last Week Tonight host John Oliver publically asked Hoffman to address the allegations against him during a 20th anniversary screening of Wag the Dog.
So far, Hoffman has been accused of harassment and sexual abuse from three different sources, including sexually harassing a 17-year-old production assistant on the of the 1985 TV adaptation of Death of a Salesman.
The Q&A panel also featured Robert De Nero, producer Jane Rosenthal, and director Barry Levinson, who sat alongside Hoffman as he was questioned about the allegations.
At the time, Hoffman released a statement apologising for putting Anna Graham Hunter, the victim, in an uncomfortable situation. He also said the situation was ‘not reflective of who I am’.
However, when challenged by Oliver, Hoffman said his statement was made only at the insistence of his representatives and “was widely misconstrued ‘at the click of a button.’”
Oliver told the Rain Man actor that the wording of Hoffman’s statement, specifically the part about it not being “reflective of who I am”, was what he took an issue with.
“It’s that part of the response to this stuff that pisses me off,” Oliver explained.
“It is reflective of who you were. You’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen.
There was a period of time when you were creeping around women. It feels like a cop-out to say, ‘Well, this isn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”
Hoffman then asked that Oliver “keep an open mind” about the accusations, telling the host that he “wasn’t there” at the time of the alleged incident, to which Oliver replied: “I’m glad I wasn’t.”
Producer Rosenthal at one point decided to enter the conversation, “as the only women here on this panel.”
She turned the focus to the larger struggle and issues like pay inequality and the need for more female representation on boards and executive suites.
“We’ve got to start moving that conversation forward,” she said, to applause.
However, Oliver took the conversation back to harassment: “We’re about to watch a movie where sexual harassment is an under-plot and there’s an elephant in the room because this conversation is not being had,” he said, explaining his interest in pursuing the topic.
Rosenthal fired back, “It wasn’t produced by Weinstein Co. or Miramax, so you don’t have a really big conversation. Kevin Spacey wasn’t starring in it. Let’s look at real sexual criminal predators.”
The debate also led to discussing a recent story in which Hoffman allegedly touched The Graduate co-star Katharine Ross.
He called the incident ‘skewed’ and began to grow increasingly uncomfortable with the line of questioning, accusing Oliver of ‘putting me on display’.
“I can’t leave certain things unaddressed,” the host said.
“The easy way is not to bring anything up. Unfortunately that leaves me at home later at night hating myself.
Why didn’t I say something? No one stands up to powerful men.”
According to reports, the confrontation created a “testy” atmosphere, with audience members “arguing volubly” about whether Oliver should have raised the allegations against Hoffman.
“Move on. Let it go. Move on,” one audience member shouted, while another thanked Oliver for “believing women” to cheers and applause.
Finally, Hoffman offered an example of the empathy he had always tried to show for characters and colleagues, referencing Tootsie, where Hoffman portrayed Dorothy, the film’s title character.
Hoffman said he stayed in makeup and costume as Dorothy and experienced misogyny first-hand.
“How could I have made that movie if I didn’t have incredible respect for women?” he asked.
“It’s shocking to me that you don’t see me more clearly.”