John Oliver might be reconsidering the way he confronted Dustin Hoffman about his alleged history of sexual misconduct.
In an interview on Sky One’s The Russell Howard Hour last week, Oliver reflected on his tense series of exchanges with Hoffman from earlier this month, when both were present for a special Wag the Dog 20th anniversary panel discussion. (Oliver served as moderator.) The Last Week Tonight host pressed Hoffman to speak on the sexual misconduct allegations made against him, reasoning that it was “hanging in the air.” Hoffman’s discomfort was quickly visible, as was Oliver’s dissatisfaction with his answers.
Speaking to Howard, however, Oliver said that he “tried and failed” in his conversation with Hoffman and admitted that the back-and-forth did not go as he hoped. “It felt unavoidable and that we had to have a discussion about it,” Oliver explained. “It wasn’t ideal but it became such a big story — but it became about my questions rather than his answers. The questions weren’t particularly remarkable, but his answers were … not great. That was the point of it. But it didn’t really go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad.”
In November, actress Anna Graham Hunter claimed in a column for The Hollywood Reporter that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate remarks to her while she interned on the 1985 Death of a Salesman TV film at the age of 17. Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, a producer, subsequently told Variety that the actor propositioned her during a meeting in 1991. Hoffman released a statement to THR following Hunter’s column, 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.”
As seen in video first obtained by The Washington Post, Oliver expressed dissatisfaction with Hoffman’s initial response about the allegations made by Hunter at the Wag the Dog panel, in which Hoffman “it didn’t happen the way she reported.” Oliver argued that what Hoffman’s comments on the topic felt “like a dismissal.” Then, after more back and forth, Oliver criticized Hoffman for not showing appropriate contrition. “It feels like dismissals or recontextualizing it is not addressing it: It doesn’t feel self-reflective in the way the incident demands,” Oliver said. “I get no pleasure from having this conversation but you and I are not the victims here.”
While many came to Oliver’s side and praised his willingness to grill Hoffman, others, such as Michael Rapaport and Alec Baldwin, indicated that Oliver interrogated Hoffman inappropriately at a public event.
Oliver explained to Howard that he had planned to confront Hoffman. “I had spoken to the organizers of this event twice before when it was clear he might be there,” he said. “I said, ‘If he is going to be there, I have to ask him about this. I understand you might not want your event to be about this, so you might want to get someone else,’ and they said ‘No, no, we want you to do it.’ Then when he confirmed, I said, ‘I am going to ask him.’ So it was a collision course was set at that point.”
In the weeks since Hoffman’s Wag the Dog panel appearance, the actor has been accused of sexual misconduct by more women. Five people came forward in a recent THR article stressing a pattern of allegedly inappropriate and predatory behavior. In Variety, Hoffman was accused of sexually assaulting two women as well as exposing himself to a minor. Through his attorney, Hoffman called the allegations described in Variety “defamatory falsehoods.”