The conversation got heated at a 20th anniversary screening of Wag the Dog on Monday night when John Oliver grilled Dustin Hoffman over allegations that he groped then 17-year-old intern Anna Graham Hunter on the Death of a Salesman set and sexually harassed playwright Wendy Riss Gatsiounis during a meeting. According to the Washington Post, Hoffman and Oliver were part of a Q & A at at the 92nd Street Y, which also included Robert De Niro, director Barry Levinson, and the Tribeca Institute’s Jane Rosenthal.
Deadline reported that the panel, led by Oliver, mainly discussed how the film’s political themes held up in the Trump era until about 20 minutes in when the Last Week Tonight host brought up that he found Hoffman’s statement in response to Hunter’s allegation insufficient, especially the part where the actor said that the behavior he was accused of is “not reflective of who I am.”
“It’s that part of the response to this stuff that pisses me off,” Oliver said. “It is reflective of who you were. You’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen. There was a period of time when you were a creeper around women. It feels like a cop-out to say, ‘Well, this isn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”
“You’ve put me on display here,” Hoffman responded. “You have indicted me…That’s not innocent until proven guilty.”
After trying to get the conversation back to the film, Hoffman brought the subject of harassment up again and accused Oliver of not keeping “an open mind” and believing his accusers without question.
From Washington Post:
“Do you believe this stuff you read?” Hoffman asked.
“Yes,” Oliver replied. “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.
In addition to mentioning the allegation because sexual harassment is a theme in the movie they were about to screen, Oliver said that he couldn’t let the issue slide because he didn’t want to dwell on that the fact that he didn’t speak up when he had the opportunity.
“No one stands up to powerful men,” Oliver said.
“Am I the powerful man?” Hoffman scoffed.
You can watch a portion of the heated exchange below: