John Oliver didn’t hold back when questioning Dustin Hoffman at a 20th-anniversary screening of “Wag the Dog” Monday night.
Oliver, 40, was moderating the Tribeca Film Institute panel when he brought up the sexual misconduct allegations made against Hoffman, 80, by former production assistant Anna Graham Hunter.
Hunter accused Hoffman of groping her on the set of “Death of A Salesman” when she was 17 years old.
Hoffman has since apologized and insisted he has “the utmost respect for women”; however, Oliver, wasn’t convinced.
“This is something we’re going to have to talk about because … it’s hanging in the air,” the host stated, adding he felt Hoffman’s apology was insufficient.
“It’s hanging in the air?” Hoffman replied. “From a few things you’ve read you’ve made an incredible assumption about me. You’ve made the case better than anyone else can. I’m guilty.”
Hoffman then insisted, according to Variety, that he “still doesn’t know who this woman is.”
The actor said, “I never met her; if I met her it was in concert with other people.”
Oliver then picked up on Hoffman saying the alleged behaviour “is not reflective of who I am,” insisting “that’s the kind of response that p**ses me off.”
The British star went on: “It is reflective of who you were. If you’ve given no evidence to show it didn’t [happen,] 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?”
Hoffman then asked, “Have you seen ‘Tootsie’? I would not have made that movie if I didn’t have an incredible respect for women. The theme of the movie is he became a better man by having been a woman. It’s shocking to me you don’t see me more clearly. That you go by a couple of things you read.”
“I can’t leave certain things unaddressed,” Oliver fought back. “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.”
As the discussion continued for around 30 minutes, the others on the panel — Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal, and director Barry Levinson — stayed fairly quiet.
However, at one point, Rosenthal attempted to move the conversation on, but was shot down by Oliver, who said: “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.”
After yet another 15 minutes of conversation, the crowd urged them to “move on,” with some even shouting from their seats.
Social media users flocked to Twitter to comment on the discussion in droves, with many praising Oliver for having the courage to question Hoffman.
In addition to the sexual harassment allegations made by Hunter, “Genius” producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis also accused Hoffman of propositioning her during a meeting in 1991.
A third accuser, Katharine Ross, then came forward to say the actor had groped her on the set of the 1967 classic, “The Graduate”.