Halfway through a benign discussion during a Tribeca film panel, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver dropped a bomb on Dustin Hoffman, by addressing something that was “hanging in the air”.
“This isn’t fun for me. But there’s an elephant in the room because...this particular incident...a conversation has not been had,” explained Oliver, bringing up sexual harassment allegations made against Hoffman by Anna Graham Hunter, which were published on November 1 by The Hollywood Reporter, even as Hoffman protested that he was being put on display.
Oliver was the moderator for a screening panel with Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and director Barry Levinson, which celebrated the 20th-anniversary of the 1997 film Wag the Dog. Oliver grilled Hoffman during the proceedings, leading to a discussion captured on camera (video above) by a reporter from The Washington Post.
Hoffman had offered a half-hearted apology when he was accused of making sexual advances and inappropriate comments towards Hunter on the set of Death of a Salesman in 1985. He reiterated his apology during the panel discussion, but insisted that he believed he had done nothing wrong – it was simply how the film crew, who were like “family members”, behaved. To make things worse, Hoffman added, “Well, there’s a point in her not bringing it up for 40 years.”
None of this went down well with Oliver, who said, “It’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off”. According to The Washington Post, on one occasion a member of the audience told Oliver, “Move on. Let it go,” but was drowned out by voices encouraging him, one of which said, “Thank you for believing women.”
“I can’t leave certain things unaddressed,” said Oliver, explaining the situation he put Hoffman in. “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.’”