Film

John Oliver Publicly Confronted Dustin Hoffman Over Sexual Harassment Allegations

"I get no pleasure from this conversation. But you and I are not the victims here."

Comedian John Oliver has publicly confronted actor Dustin Hoffman over allegations of sexual misconduct during an extraordinary exchange at a film screening in New York.

The host of Last Week Tonight was moderating a panel discussion at an anniversary screening of Hoffman’s film Wag the Dog. But midway through the hour long session the topic of conversation shifted, when Oliver brought up allegations made by Anna Graham Hunter, who said that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate comments when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of Death of a Salesman in 1985.

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

“It’s hanging in the air?” responded Hoffman. “From a few things you’ve read you’ve made an incredible assumption about me.”

Oliver went on to question the language used by Hoffman in his public statement responding to Hunter’s accusations, in which the actor insisted that he had “the utmost respect for women”, and said that if he had done anything to put anyone “in an uncomfortable situation” then such behaviour was “not reflective” of who he is.

“I’m not the moral arbiter of anything,” said Oliver. “It’s just that, ‘it’s not reflective of who I am’, it’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off. Because it is reflective of who you were. If it happened — and you’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen — then there was a period in time, for a while, when you were a creeper around women. So it feels like a cop-out to say ‘well this isn’t me’. Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”

The visibly uncomfortable Hoffman accused Oliver of blindsiding him and putting him “on display”. He also continued to cast aspersions on Hunter, asking Oliver why he was so quick to believe her.

“Because there’s no point in her lying,” the comedian replied.

Oliver told Hoffman that he was getting “no pleasure from having this conversation, but you and I are not the victims here.”

As the exchange grew more heated, producer Jane Rosenthal, who was also on the stage, attempted to defuse the situation.

“What difference is all this going to make?” she asked. “This conversation doesn’t do any good. We have a platform here. How are we moving forward?”

She also attempted to draw a distinction between Hoffman and the men in Hollywood accused of more egregious behaviour. “[The film] wasn’t produced by Weinstein or Miramax,” she said. “Kevin Spacey wasn’t starring in it. Let’s look at real sexual criminal predators.”

“That’s a low bar,” Oliver shot back.

Oliver said he had thought about not raising the issue, but ultimately felt he had an obligation.

“I can’t leave certain things unaddressed,” he said. “The easy way is not to bring anything up. Unfortunately that leaves me at home later at night hating myself.”

“No one stands up to powerful men.”

The Washington Post captured a portion of the confrontation between the two men, which you can watch below.

Image of Hoffman via Wikimedia