“Last Week Tonight host John Oliver’s tense discussion with Dustin Hoffman over the sexual assault claims facing the actor made waves earlier this month, but not for the reasons the comedian had hoped.
Oliver opened up about the heated panel exchange, and appeared regretful not for bringing up the touchy subject, but for the fact that his line of questioning gained more attention than Hoffman’s answers.
“It wasn’t ideal that it became such a big story — but it became about my questions rather than his answers. My questions weren’t particularly remarkable, but his answers were kind of not great. That was really the point of it. But it didn’t really go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad … I tried and failed,” he told Sky One’s The Russell Howard Hour.
At the time, Hoffman, 80, had been accused of sexual misconduct by two women; the number has since risen to eight.
Anna Graham Hunter claimed in October she was an intern on the 1985 set of Death of a Salesman when Hoffman made aggressively lewd comments, requested foot massages and groped her.
He apologized, saying such behaviour was “not reflective of his character” — which is what set off Oliver.
The British comedian was moderating a discussion to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Wag the Dog” when he saw his opportunity to address Hoffman’s questionable response to Hunter’s claims.
“I felt it was unavoidable. I had spoken to the event organizer twice before when it was clear (Hoffman) might be there, I said, ‘If he’s gonna be there, I have to ask him about this.’ I felt like I had to bring it up, the stories were out there and I knew there were a few more coming,” Oliver said.
During the panel, Oliver slammed Hoffman’s public apology, saying it “pissed (him) off” and was a cop out.
“It is reflective of who you were. If it happened and 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. So it feels like a cop-out to say, ‘This isn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?” he asked Hoffman in front of the crowd. The actor responded with, “You weren’t there,” to which Oliver quipped, “I’m glad.”