At a Q&A preceding an anniversary screening of "Wag the Dog" at the 92nd St. Y in New York City on Monday night, comedian and "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver repeatedly pressed Dustin Hoffman to respond to allegations that he sexually harassed an intern in the 1980s.
About 20 minutes into the genial conversation, Oliver brought up the topic of sexual harassment as “the elephant in the room,” asking Dustin Hoffman if he thought that his initial statement in response to the harassment was sufficient.
Hoffman — surrounded by Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal and director Barry Levinson — responded that “first of all, it didn’t happen the way she reported” and complained that his statement had been misconstrued.
“From a few things you’ve read, you’ve made an incredible assumption about me,” Hoffman said, according to The Washington Post, adding wryly, “You’ve made the case better than anyone else can. I’m guilty.”
Oliver said that he was particularly bothered by the part in Hoffman’s initial statement that said it was “not reflective of” who he was.
“It’s ‘not reflective of who I am’ — it’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off,” Oliver said. “It is reflective of who you were. If you’ve given no evidence to show it didn’t [happen] then there was a period of time for a while when you were a creeper around women. It feels like a cop-out to say ‘It wasn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”
Hoffman said that Oliver was putting him “on display” and he felt blindsided by the questions. But Oliver said that he felt a responsibility to ask about the sexual harassment allegations.
“I can’t leave certain things unaddressed,” he said. “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.’”
“Am I the powerful man?” the seven-time Oscar nominee responded.