HBO host John Oliver unexpectedly confronted actor Dustin Hoffman in a heated exchange over his sexual harassment allegations during a panel discussion at a benefit for the Tribeca Film Institute Monday, The Huffington Post reports.
Oliver moderated a pre-screening panel discussion about the 20th anniversary of the movie “Wag the Dog.”
“This is something we’re going to have to talk about because… it’s hanging in the air,” Oliver told Hoffman during a Q&A with co-star Robert DeNiro and director Barry Levinson.
“It’s hanging in the air?” Hoffman replied. “From a few things you’ve read you’ve made an incredible assumption about me… You’ve made the case better than anyone else can. I’m guilty.”
Hoffman was accused of sexually harassing two women earlier this year.
Anna Graham Hunter wrote in The Hollywood Reporter that Hoffman groped her and sexually harassed her on the set of the 1985 television movie “Death of a Salesman” when she was a 17-year-old intern.
TV producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis also accused Hoffman of sexually propositioning her during a pitch meeting in an interview with Variety.
After Hunter’s allegation, Hoffman issued a statement saying, “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.”
Oliver cited the apology, and asked Hoffman, “You’ve made one statement in print. Does that feel like enough to you?”
“First of all, it didn’t happen, the way she reported,” Hoffman answered.
Oliver cited the “not reflective” part of Hoffman’s statement, pointing out, “It’s that part of the response to this stuff that pisses me off. 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 weren’t there,” Hoffman replied.
“I’m glad,” Oliver explained.
“You’ve put me on display here,” Hoffman argued. “You have indicted me… That’s not innocent until proven guilty.”
Oliver then read parts of Hunter’s article.
“Do you believe this stuff you read?” Hoffman asked.
“Yes,” Oliver said. “Because there’s no point in her lying.”
“Well, there’s a point in her not bringing it up for 40 years,” Hoffman insisted.
“Oh, Dustin,” Oliver grimaced.
Oliver said that he brought up the accusations because “we’re about to watch a movie where sexual harassment is an under-plot and there’s an elephant in the room because this conversation is not being had.”
The Tribeca Institute’s Jane Rosenthal attempted to move the conversation in a different way, saying, “It wasn’t produced by Weinstein Co. or Miramax, so you don’t have a really big conversation. Kevin Spacey wasn’t starring in it. Let’s look at real sexual criminal predators.”
“That’s a low bar,” Oliver replied.
“I can’t leave certain things unaddressed,” Oliver explained. “The easy way is not to bring anything up. Unfortunately that leaves me at home later at night hating myself. Why… didn’t I say something? No one stands up to powerful men.”
“Am I the powerful man?” Hoffman asked.
Watch the video below: