John Oliver goes in on Dustin Hoffman over sexual harassment allegation

When interviewing Dustin Hoffman, the straight-shooting John Oliver seemingly had one topic on his mind: sexual harassment. 

Their heated conversation — published by The Washington Post — was part of an anniversary screening of 1997's Wag the Dog in New York City Monday. 

In November, Anna Graham Hunter accused Hoffman of sexually harassing her on the set of the 1985 TV film Death of a Salesman in a piece published by The Hollywood Reporter. Hunter, who served as an intern, was 17 at the time. She claimed Hoffman groped her and “talked about sex to me and in front of me." 

In response to the allegations, Hoffman issued an apology, 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," which he mentioned onstage with Oliver. 

"I'm asking my agent, my publicist, 'What do I do now?'" Hoffman said, "And they say what you can't do, or what's not a good idea to do, is that if you get into a dispute, it lengthens the argument. So, he said what you should do is just apologize."

Dustin Hoffman says sex harassment claim 'not reflective of who I am'. Video provided by ReutersNewslook

Hoffman identified "if" as the key word of his apology, repeating that he apologized if he did anything untoward. Oliver countered, "You 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 is reflective of who you were," Oliver told the actor. "If it happened and you’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen, then there was a period in time for a while when you were creepier around women. So, it feels like a cop-out to say, ‘Well, this isn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”

"It's difficult to answer that question," Hoffman replied, telling the Last Week Tonighthost, "You weren't there." 

Hoffman admitted his comment was "sexual in terms of the humor of it" but reasoned "that's 40 years ago."

"I gotta say, I don't love that response either," Oliver shot back. "It just it feels like dismissals or re-contextualizing it is not actually addressing it. It doesn't feel self-reflective in the way that it seems the incident demands."

After Oliver read a line from Hunter's diary, Dustin asked, "Do you believe the stuff that you read?”

“I believe what she wrote, yes,” Oliver said, adding as he saw it, "there’s no point in her lying.”

“Well, there is a point in her not bringing this up for 40 years,” Hoffman said, a comment that received groans from the audience.

Oliver received applause, saying there probably needs to be a culture shift surrounding the lag time Hoffman described. "Because what can seem completely fine or normal to a certain group of people can have victims at the other end of it" Oliver said.

If you have ever experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct while working in the entertainment industry, we’d like to hear from you. Send us a secure tip using the instructions at newstips.usatoday.com.

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