Dustin Hoffman has clashed angrily with John Oliver after the British comedian brought up allegations of sexual harassment made against the veteran actor.
Oliver confronted Hoffman over the historic allegations midway through a panel discussion at an event marking the 20th anniversary for the black comedy film Wag the Dog, reports the Washington Post.
Last month writer and actor Anna Graham Hunter accused Hoffman of harassing her when she was a high school student aged 17, interning as a production assistant on the set of the 1985 TV film adaptation of Death of a Salesman.
At the time he responded with a statement reading: “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.”
During the Q&A Oliver, who is known as the host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, brought up the topic, saying it was “hanging in the air”.
Hoffman replied: “First of all, it didn’t happen the way she reported. I still don’t know who this woman is. I never met her. If I met her it was in concert with other people.”
The actor, known for his starring roles in The Graduate and Kramer vs. Kramer, also suggested that his statement was misconstrued as an admission of guilt by the press.
Oliver took exception with Hoffman’s assertion that the alleged behaviour was not “reflective” of his character, saying such statements “pisses me off”.
The Birmingham-born satirist added: “It is reflective of who you were. If you’ve given no evidence to show it didn’t [happen], there was a period of time for a while when you were a creeper around women. It feels like a cop-out to say ‘well this isn’t me.’”
Hoffman accused Oliver of putting him “on display”, saying that he had not been warned in advance of the line of questioning.
Oliver replied: “I can’t leave certain things unaddressed. 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.”
The Washington Post reported that the confrontation caused a “testy” atmosphere, and audience members could be heard arguing among themselves about whether Oliver was justified in pressing Hoffman on the issue.