Dustin Hoffman Accused of Sexual Harassing Former Production Assistant in 1985
Brett Ratner isn’t the only Hollywood heavyweight whose history of alleged sexual misconduct was exposed today. Around the same time that The LA Times published their extensive report on Ratner, The Hollywood Reporter ran a guest column from Anna Graham Hunter, an author and former production assistant who alleges that Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed and forcibly groped her on the set of a 1985 TV film.
Hoffman is the latest in a line of prominent Hollywood men accused of sexual misconduct in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations. Over 90 women (and counting) have courageously outed Weinstein for sexual harassment, assault and rape in recent weeks. And now, in an essay for THR, Hunter alleges that Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed and groped her numerous times on the set of a 1985 television production of The Death of a Salesman.
Hunter, then 17 years old, was working as a production assistant. Recalling how it began, she says, “He asked me to give him a foot massage.” Hunter complied, but an unusual request quickly escalated into a series of upsetting encounters:
He was openly flirtatious, he grabbed my ass, he talked about sex to me and in front of me. One morning I went to his dressing room to take his breakfast order; he looked at me and grinned, taking his time. Then he said, ‘I’ll have a hard-boiled egg … and a soft-boiled clitoris.’ His entourage burst out laughing. I left, speechless. Then I went to the bathroom and cried.
“During my five weeks on set,” Hunter reveals, “I detailed my days and mailed dispatches to my sister in London after making copies for myself.” She says she only recently read them again for the first time in “several years.”
After the foot massage, Hunter recalls several uncomfortable conversations with Hoffman on the topic of women’s breasts and Hunter’s personal sex life. On January 31, Hunter recounted how another woman on set asked for Hoffman’s lunch order, to which he replied, “Your left breast.” When the woman called him “disgusting,” Hoffman said, “OK, your right breast.” Later, Hunter writes:
Today, when I was walking Dustin to his limo, he felt my ass four times. I hit him each time, hard, and told him he was a dirty old man. He took off his hat and pointed to his head (shaved for the part) and said, ‘No, I'm a dirty young man, I have a full head of hair.’ So would Bob have fired me if he’d seen me hit Dustin?
February 4 was the day Hunter says Hoffman included a comment in his breakfast request that was “worse than anything anyone has ever said to me on the street.” Hunter writes, “It was so gross I couldn’t say anything,” so she “just turned around and walked out.” Later, Hunter says Hoffman confronted her about thinking he was a “sexist pig” in front of his co-stars John Malkovich (of whom Hunter was quite fond) and Stephen Lang.
Despite his ongoing harassment, on February 20 Hunter concluded her diary with perhaps the most heartbreaking entry:
No one is 100 percent good or bad. Dustin’s a pig, but I like him a lot.
Looking back on the entries now, Hunter says, “my heart aches.” Even though Hoffman harassed her and made unwelcome advances, Hunter still liked him. Of her younger self, Hunter says, “I want to weep that she found this charming.”
Even now, Hunter admits she still enjoys watching Hoffman’s films, and finds it difficult to view her experience in binary terms:
Whenever I talk about this, I sense that my listeners want a victim and a villain. And I wish my feelings were as clear as theirs. I would be more comfortable if I felt nothing but revulsion for a man who had power over me and abused it.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Hoffman said:
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.
(To Hoffman’s credit, at the very least, he’s taken responsibility and apologized for his actions.)
But Hunter is not the only woman to have encountered a darker side of the acclaimed actor, who is often perceived as anything but the picture painted in her essay. On the set of the 1979 film Kramer vs. Kramer, Hoffman tormented his co-star Meryl Streep (who won an Oscar for her performance). According to a Vanity Fair feature published last year, Hoffman would antagonize Streep in the moments leading up to more emotionally demanding scenes. Before one, he slapped her in the face; for another, he taunted her about her recently deceased boyfriend, John Cazale, making “remarks about his cancer and his death.”
In Hoffman’s mind, he was “using stuff that he knew about her personal life and about John to get the response that he thought she should be giving in the performance,” according to film executive Richard Fischoff.
Later, Hoffman addressed his behavior on the set of Kramer vs. Kramer to THR, explaining, “I was getting divorced, I’d been partying with drugs and it depleted me in every way.” It seems he never considered the effect his misogynistic and aggressive behavior had on the women who had to deal with him.