HBO host John Oliver hammered Dustin Hoffman on an allegation of sexual harassment and the actor fired back with a ferocious defense as a seemingly benign screening became an explosive conversation about Hollywood sexual misconduct.
“This is something we’re going to have to talk about because … it’s hanging in the air,” Oliver said to Hoffman at the discussion, an anniversary screening of the film Wag the Dog. He was alluding to an allegation made by Anna Graham Hunter last month that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate comments when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1986 TV film Death of a Salesman.
“It’s hanging in the air?” Hoffman said. “From a few things you’ve read you’ve made an incredible assumption about me,” he said, adding, “You’ve made the case better than anyone else can. ‘I’m guilty.’”
Hoffman had offered a conditional apology at the time of the allegation, and on Monday he underscored an “if” included in that statement, saying he didn’t really believe he had done anything wrong. He said he had not engaged in groping, 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 dismissed that as insufficient, then cited Hoffman’s response at the time of the allegation that his behaviour on set was “not reflective of” who Hoffman is.
“It’s that kind of statement that pisses me off,” Oliver said. “It’s ‘not reflective of who I am.’ But it is reflective of who you were.”
The conversation grew increasingly angry.
“You weren’t there,” Hoffman said to Oliver about the Salesman set.
“I’m glad [I wasn’t],” the host replied.