Meryl Streep Recalls Dustin Hoffman's 'Kramer vs. Kramer' Slap: "It Was Overstepping"
"This was my first movie, and it was my first take in my first movie, and he just slapped me. And you see it in the movie."
Meryl Streep didn't have a very good first day on the set of Kramer vs. Kramer, in which she starred opposite Dustin Hoffman.
The actress made a new comment on the behavior of Hoffman, currently plagued by multiple sexual misconduct claims, in a New York Times interview. While filming the 1979 movie, Hoffman slapped her during the first take of their first scene together — a moment that was detailed in last year's Vanity Fair story and one she now called "overstepping."
"This is tricky because when you’re an actor, you’re in a scene, you have to feel free," she told the Times. "I’m sure that I have inadvertently hurt people in physical scenes. But there’s a certain amount of forgiveness in that. But this was my first movie, and it was my first take in my first movie, and he just slapped me. And you see it in the movie."
"It was overstepping," she continued. "But I think those things are being corrected in this moment. And they’re not politically corrected; they’re fixed. They will be fixed, because people won’t accept it anymore. So that’s a good thing."
Streep previously said in a 1979 interview that Hoffman grabbed her breast during their first meeting — an encounter for which Hoffman has apologized, according to the actress' representative. That archival interview resurfaced as multiple women came forward with accounts of Hoffman's behavior, which include a steady stream of obscene comments, gropes and inappropriate demands on set that date back to 1975.
The actress also told NYT that she experienced sexual harassment early on in her acting career. "Back in the day, when everybody was doing cocaine, there was a lot of [expletive] behavior that was inexcusable. But now that people are older, and more sober, there has to be forgiveness, and that’s the way I feel about it," she said, opting not to go into specifics. "I was really beaten up, but I don’t want to ruin somebody’s mature life. I just don’t. I do think if the world is going to go on, we have to find out a way to work together, and know that it’s better for men if they respect us deeply as equals."
The wide-ranging interview — also with Tom Hanks, who stars in The Post opposite Streep — covered the actors' thoughts on the #MeToo movement. "I know that I have participated in crude humor worthy of a baseball locker room on a set. And that’s bad words, and a degree of stupid sexuality in the confines of the circus," admitted Hanks. "There’s no reason not to view this as a reckoning that is going to make us a better society."
Streep also further commented on the flood of sexual harassment, assault and rape allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein. "I really didn’t know," she reiterated. "I did think he was having girlfriends. But when I heard rumors about actresses, I thought that that was a way of denigrating the actress and her ability to get the job. That really raised my hackles. I didn’t know that he was in any way abusing people. He never asked me to a hotel room. I don’t know how his life was conducted without people intimately knowing about it."
And when asked about the requests to immediately comment on the matter in November, Streep — who doesn't use social media — said, "I really had to think. Because it really underlined my own sense of cluelessness, and also how evil, deeply evil, and duplicitous, a person he was, yet such a champion of really great work. You make movies. You think you know everything about everybody. So much gossip. You don’t know anything. People are so inscrutable on a certain level. And it’s a shock. Some of my favorite people have been brought down by this, and he’s not one of them."
"I don’t want to hear about the silence of me," she continued. "I want to hear about the silence of Melania Trump. I want to hear from her. She has so much that’s valuable to say. And so does Ivanka. I want her to speak now."