“This [Hunter's allegations] is something we’re going to have to talk about because … it’s hanging in the air,” Oliver said to Hoffman in his firing shot.
“It’s hanging in the air?” Hoffman rebutted. “From a few things you’ve read, you’ve made an incredible assumption about me. You’ve made the case better than anyone else can. I’m guilty.”
Hoffman then went on to say that he didn’t recall Hunter at all (because 17-year-old interns are so common in Hollywood) and that his interactions with people on set was just how people behaved between takes.
“I still don’t know who this woman is,” Hoffman said. “I never met her; if I met her, it was in concert with other people.”
Except that Hunter has pictures and mementos from her time on set with Hoffman, as well as multiple other people on set who verified her account – not to mention the diary she kept from that time.
Of course, John Oliver, being John Oliver, wasn't about to let Hoffman off so lightly.
Oliver, whose show Last Week Tonight has quickly become one of the most trusted sources of information particularly because of Oliver’s ability to take humorous deep dives into seemingly boring subjects, has a reputation for not backing down from contentious issues… or interviewees.
He demonstrated this ability with aplomb, next taking a crack at Hoffman’s claims that the allegations, if they happened, were “not reflective” of him.
“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 again hemmed and hawed, saying he felt "blindsided" by the attack.
This led to the most testy part of the exchange.
“Do you believe this stuff you read?” Hoffman asked.
“Yes,” Oliver replied. “Because there’s no point in [an accuser] lying.”
“Well, there’s a point in her not bringing it up for 40 years,” Hoffman said.
“Oh, Dustin,” Oliver said disapprovingly, putting his head in his hand.
It's worth noting that Hoffman himself has admitted to sexually harassing both of his female costars from his seminal movie The Graduate Katherine Rose – (love interest Elaine) and Anne Bancroft (Mrs. Robinson).
In interviews, Hoffman spoke fondly about his (unscripted) groping of Anne Bancroft’s breasts in a scene and pinching Ross’ buttocks, an act she did not appreciate, to say the least.
I remember at one point, I pinched very gently Katharine’s right—probably her right buttocks as a way to help loosen us up. And I kind of patted her and gave her a little [pinch] and she turned on me and later we became friends, but at that moment, she just whirled on me and said, [Hoffman adopts rough, angry voice] “Don’t you ever do that to me again.” And suddenly everybody kind of heard it, the crew and wherever, and I just sat there and they didn’t know what was going on. She said, “How dare you?!” I said, “Sorry, sorry—[Hoffman laughs]—I was just trying to get us relaxed. [Interviewer and crew laughs in background.] Sorry.” And if it was bad up to then, it was gonna get worse after.
She later apologized. She said it was her own tension, too.
This recounting is not out of character for Hoffman, who consistently excuses his acts of harassment as youthful folly and tries to lean on the feminist card he “earned” while making Tootsie.