Hoffman and Oliver spar over harassment claim

December 5, 2017
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Dustin Hoffman got into a war of words with John Oliver over a sexual harassment allegation made against the actor.

During what was meant to be a Q&A panel celebrating 20 years of political satire Wag The Dog, presenter John Oliver confronted the 80-year-old star about an allegation made by a former production intern.

Anna Graham Hunter accused Hoffman of groping her when she was 17 on the set of Hoffman’s Death of A Salesman.

Hoffman apologised following the claim, saying he has “the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation”.

He also said his alleged behaviour “is not reflective of who I am.”

Oliver quickly shifted the focus of the panel to the claim.

“This is something we’re going to have to talk about because … it’s hanging in the air,” he said Oliver said.

“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.”

Dustin Hoffman in Death of a Salesman in 1985
Image:
Dustin Hoffman in Death of a Salesman in 1985

Both Deadline and Variety have reported the discussion carried on for the best part of half an hour, with a live audience both cheering and booing at times.

Around the table was Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal and director Barry Levinson.

“You’ve made one statement in print,” Oliver said, criticising Hoffman’s response to the allegation.

“Does that feel like enough to you?” he asked.

“First of all, it didn’t happen, the way she reported,” Hoffman answered.

“I still don’t know who this woman is,” he added.

“I never met her; if I met her it was in concert with other people.”

Oliver replied that his biggest concern was the way Hoffman replied at the time when the accusation was first made public, saying that “it isn’t reflective of who I am”.

“It’s that kind of response to this stuff that p***** me off,” Oliver said.

“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,” he added.

“It feels like a cop-out to say ‘it wasn’t me’. Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”

Hoffman replied by accusing Oliver of putting him “on display” and “ambushing” him, adding: “You have indicted me. That’s not innocent until proven guilty.”

While the rest of the panel, for the most part, reportedly remained silent, people at the audience made their voices heard on social media.

“Oliver just asked people to stop recording his argument with Hoffman on their phone,” one user wrote.

“‘That’s what I hate about the Internet.’ But i mean, isn’t that why he brought it up? To have a public conversation?,” the user added.

“And now the audience is arguing volubly back and forth about whether Hoffman is upstanding and Oliver should be asking the questions. Not sure I’ve ever seen anything like it at a screening panel.”



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