John Oliver grills Dustin Hoffman over sexual harassment claims

Last month a woman named Anna Graham Hunter claimed that actor Dustin Hoffman had sexually harassed her when she was a 17-year-old production assistant in 1985. Hoffman apologized to Hunter the same day her accusations were published. Monday night, John Oliver was at a screening with Hoffman of one of his films (Wag the Dog). Oliver took the opportunity to confront Hoffman about the accusations in front of the assembled audience. From the Washington Post.

The “Last Week Tonight” personality was moderating a 20th-anniversary screening panel at the 92nd Street Y on behalf of the Tribeca Institute, with stars Hoffman, Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal and director Barry Levinson on the stage. About halfway through the hour-long talk, Oliver brought up the issue to Hoffman, saying he found the actor’s statements about the matter wanting. Nearly the entire rest of the discussion was then dominated by Oliver, Hoffman and the subject of sexual harassment.

Hoffman had offered a conditional apology at the time of the allegation, and on Monday he underscored an “if” included in that statement, noting several times that he didn’t really believe he had done anything wrong. He said that he had not engaged in groping, that he didn’t recall meeting Graham Hunter and that all his comments on set were simply how members of “a family” talked to one another…

Oliver…then cited Hoffman’s response at the time of the allegation that the actor’s behavior on set was “not reflective of” who he really is.

“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?”

CNN has a bit more of the back and forth between Hoffman and Oliver:

“Do you believe this stuff that you read?” Hoffman asked.

“I believe what she wrote, yes,” Oliver replied.

“Why?” asked Hoffman.

“Because there’s no point in her lying,” said Oliver.

“Well, there’s a point in her not bringing this up for 40 years,” Hoffman said.

“Oh, Dustin,” Oliver said, as he put his head in his hand.

At one point Hoffman said of the accusations, “That was 40 years ago.”

“Oh, I don’t love that response either,” Oliver responded.

“What response do you want?” Hoffman snapped back.

Oliver is clearly trying to put Hoffman on the spot. Hoffman is looking for an exit from this impromptu drama but Oliver is refusing to give him one. Is the point to make Hoffman squirm? If so consider this clip a mission accomplished. Hoffman never really changed his tune. Near the end of the clip, Hoffman said, “I really wish you would watch the documentary.”

“I’ll watch it,” Oliver replied.

“And maybe you should have watched it before you brought this up in front of 1,000 people,” Hoffman added.