John Oliver Gets Into Heated Argument With Dustin Hoffman Over Sexual Harassment Claims
At a 'Wag the Dog' 20th anniversary screening, the 'Last Week Tonight' host questioned the Oscar-winning actor about recent allegations of inappropriate behavior.
John Oliver got into a testy argument with Dustin Hoffman over sexual harassment allegations against the Oscar-winning actor at a film panel in New York on Monday night.
At a 20th anniversary panel and screening of the political film Wag the Dog, Oliver asked Hoffman about recent sexual harassment allegations made against him by Anna Graham Hunter, going back to when she was a 17-year-old production assistant on the 1985 TV film Death of a Salesman. According to The Washington Post's Steve Zeitchik, who tweeted about the back-and-forth as it happened and later posted a full story and video of what transpired, Hoffman "grew visibly uncomfortable."
The Last Week Tonight host broached the subject approximately halfway through the hourlong prescreening discussion, according to Zeitchik's story.
"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, according to the Post.
"It's hanging in the air?" Hoffman said. "From a few things you've read you've made an incredible assumption about me," he noted, adding sarcastically, "You've made the case better than anyone else can. I'm guilty."
Oliver seized in particular on Hoffman's apology after The Hollywood Reporter revealed the allegations against the actor.
When contacted by THR, Hoffman said, "I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am."
"It's 'not reflective of who I am' — it's that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off," Oliver said during the panel discussion, according to the Post. "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?"
The rest of the discussion was dominated by Oliver, Hoffman and the subject of sexual harassment, with other panel participants and audience members trying to change the subject, the Post reports, claiming that Oliver himself even tried to move on and talk about the film but Hoffman returned to the harassment claims.
Hoffman said several times Monday night that he didn't believe he'd done anything wrong, the Post reported. He said he didn't recall meeting Graham Hunter and that whatever he said on set was simply how members of "a family" talked to one another, the Post says.
"I still don't know who this woman is," Hoffman said. "I never met her; if I met her it was in concert with other people."
The actor said he felt blindsided because neither Oliver nor organizers told him the moderator would raise the subject, according to the Post.
At one point, Hoffman asked Oliver if he believed the reports about him and Oliver said, "Yes, because there's no point in [an accuser] lying."
"Well, there's a point in her not bringing it up for 40 years," Hoffman said.
"Oh Dustin," Oliver said disapprovingly, putting his head in his hand.
Oliver said he considered not bringing up the contentious subject at what was intended to be a benign event but decided he had an obligation to do so, the Post reported.
"I can't leave certain things unaddressed," the host said. "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.'"
"Am I the powerful man?" Hoffman asked.
Hoffman later said to Oliver of the allegations against him, "You weren't there," and the Last Week Tonight host replied, "I'm happy [I wasn't]," according to Zeitchik.
Watch video of the testy exchange below.
Tweets from Zeitchik and others in attendance follow.
John Oliver just went after Dustin Hoffman big time on sexual harassment at this Wag The Dog panel. Hoffman grew visibly uncomfortable. "You weren't there," he says to Oliver. "I'm happy I wasn't," Oliver replied.— Steven Zeitchik (@ZeitchikWaPo) December 5, 2017
All hell has now broken loose on this Wag The Dog panel. The subject seemed over after seven minutes but Hoffman brought it up again, saying Oliver is not keeping an "open mind" and is unquestionably believing accusers, and a testy five minutes followed.— Steven Zeitchik (@ZeitchikWaPo) December 5, 2017
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.— Steven Zeitchik (@ZeitchikWaPo) December 5, 2017
Oliver just asked people to stop recording his argument with Hoffman on their phone. "That's what I hate about the Internet." But i mean, isn't that why he brought it up? To have a public conversation?— Steven Zeitchik (@ZeitchikWaPo) December 5, 2017
This photo was taken before #92Y panel discussion got v heated; John Oliver asked Dustin Hoffman about the sexual assault allegations against him... Hoffman denied knowing the woman. pic.twitter.com/xihbNt50fM— Laura Podesta (@LauraPodestaTV) December 5, 2017
"You've made this incredible assumption about me, sir." Hoffman said to Oliver. Oliver says it's something he had to bring it up before we watch the film #wagthedog— Laura Podesta (@LauraPodestaTV) December 5, 2017
Dustin Hoffman and John Oliver getting into it at Tribeca Film Institute benefit. "What response do you want?" - Hoffman "It doesn't seem self-reflective in the way the situation demands." -Oliver— Dade Hayes (@dadehayes) December 5, 2017