Comedian John Oliver stands by his decision earlier this month to publicly confront actor Dustin Hoffman on allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted actresses and female crew members, but regrets that the discussion “didn’t really go anywhere constructive.”
“I did try. I tried and failed,” Oliver told British talk show host Russell Howard last week, when asked about pressing the actor while moderating a panel event commemorating the 20th anniversary of Hoffman’s movie “Wag the Dog.”
Some audience members, as well as actor Alec Baldwin, criticized Oliver, the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” for his handling of the matter.
Oliver said that he broached the allegations with the approval of the event organizers, saying that it was “unavoidable.”
“I said, ‘If he’s 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, no, we want you to do it,’” he recounted.
“It felt unavoidable that we had to have a discussion about it,” Oliver said. “It wasn’t ideal that it became such a big media story because then, I think, it became about my questions rather than his answers. My questions were not particularly remarkable. His answers were kind of not great, so that was really the point of it. But it didn’t really go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad.”
In November, writer Anna Graham Hunter detailed in The Hollywood Reporter that Hoffman groped her and made sexual comments when she was a 17-year-old production assistant working on the set of the 1985 made-for-TV adaptation of “Death of a Salesman.”
In response to Hunter’s account, Hoffman said he was “sorry,” and called the incidents “not reflective of who I am.” His lawyer has denied some of the other allegations, telling Variety that they are “defamatory falsehoods.”