It was an open secret in entertainment industry circles that movie moguls Harvey Weinstein and Brett Ratner were serial sexual assaulters. Even renegade film director James Toback actively advertised his sleazy ways with women by making thinly-veiled autobiographical movies with titles like The Pick-Up Artist.
However, it came as a significant surprise when well-respected Rain Man and Tootsie star Dustin Hoffman had an accusation of sexual harassment leveled against him. Comedy Central host John Oliver recently confronted Huffman directly about this allegation, with predictably heated results.
The Last Week Tonight host was moderating a panel commemorating the anniversary of the very timely Dustin Hoffman and Robert de Niro film Wag the Dog, and used it as an opportunity to air out the accusation with Hoffman himself. The accuser in reference is a woman named Anna Graham Hunter, who is claiming that Hoffman groped her on the set of a production of Death of A Salesman when she was a 17-year-old intern working there. Said Oliver to Hoffman during the panel, “This is something we’re going to have to talk about because … it’s hanging in the air.” Shot back Dustin, “It’s hanging in the air? 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 continued, “I still don’t know who this woman is. I never met her; if I met her it was in concert with other people.” Oliver then pressed Hoffman about the portion of his statement responding to the accusations where he said that this type of behavior is “not reflective” of who he truly is. Said John to the star of The Graduate, “It’s ‘not reflective of who I am.’ It’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off. 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 later defended himself by citing Tootsie as an example of his high regard for women. Said the film’s titular lead, “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.” He added, “It’s shocking to me you don’t see me more clearly. That you go by a couple of things you read.” Retorted Oliver, “I can’t leave certain things unaddressed. 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.” Are you glad that Oliver confronted Hoffman about this?