John Oliver dubbed his recent confrontation with Dustin Hoffman a failure in a new interview on Sky One’s The Russell Howard Hour. The Last Week Tonight host grilled the famous actor about sexual misconduct allegations earlier this month.
In the weeks leading up to a December 4th panel honoring the 20th anniversary of the Hoffman film Wag the Dog, the actor was accused by multiple women of groping and making inappropriate comments. “I knew the stories were out there, and I heard there were a few more coming, so [bringing them up] felt unavoidable,” explained Oliver, who hosted the panel. “We had to have a discussion about it.” He warned the hosts of the event that he would bring up Hoffman’s alleged sexual misconduct.
Although Oliver’s public questioning of Hoffman made headlines, he believes it received attention for the wrong reasons. “It became such a big story, but it became about my questions rather than [Hoffman’s] answers,” Oliver noted. “The questions weren’t particularly remarkable, but his answers were … not great … it didn’t really go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad.”
“I wanted it to become something more constructive,” he reiterated later. “I tried and failed.”
At the panel event earlier this month, Oliver pressed Hoffman about the allegations of Anna Graham Hunter, who said she was groped by the actor on the Death of a Salesman set when she was 17. Hoffman ducked, dodged and rebutted Oliver’s questions. “I still don’t know who this woman is,” the actor said. “I never met her. If I met her it was in concert with other people.”
Hunter was not the only one accusing Hoffman of sexual misconduct at that time. His Graduate co-star Katharine Ross had alleged that he groped her, and the writer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis also said Hoffman treated her inappropriately during a 1991 pitch meeting.
Days after Oliver and Hoffman faced off, Kathryn Rossetter wrote about the “horrific, demoralizing and abusive experience” of starring next to Hoffman in Death of a Salesman. The following week, three more women came forward alleging that Hoffman sexually harassed or assaulted them during the 1980s.
In a statement to Variety, Hoffman’s attorney called the latest wave of accusations “defamatory falsehoods.”