Screen legend Dustin Hoffman has apologized after a former production assistant intern recounted inappropriate behavior toward her in 1985, when she was 17.
“I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation,” the two-time Academy Award-winner, 80, told The Hollywood Reporter following Anna Graham Hunter’s guest column Wednesday about working with him on the TV-movie “Death of a Salesman.” “I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.”
Hunter wrote that while a senior in a New York City high school, she had interned on the telefilm adaptation of Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, in which Hoffman starred as Willy Loman. “He asked me to give him a foot massage my first day on set; I did. He was openly flirtatious, he grabbed my . . . [rear], he talked about sex to me and in front of me,” including with a jocularly vulgar remark that made his entourage laugh but left her “speechless. Then I went to the bathroom and cried.”
In letters mailed to her sister during Hunter’s five weeks on set, Hunter detailed coarse talk and unwanted physical contact. On Jan. 31, 1985, she wrote, “Today, I realized some things about this business that scare me. First of all, Dustin’s a lech. I’m completely disillusioned. . . . Today, when I was walking Dustin to his limo, he felt my . . . [rear] 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.’”
Hunter said in a Feb. 4, 1985, letter that she told Hoffman she “didn’t appreciate his wandering hands or his comments. He apologized and said he would stop. After that he was so nice to me I was shocked. . . . I guess he felt really bad.” The letters conclude on Feb. 20 with her writing, “No one is 100 percent good or bad. Dustin’s a pig, but I like him a lot.”
Reflecting on it today, Hunter wrote, “He was a predator, I was a child, and this was sexual harassment. As to how it fits into my own pattern, I imagine I’ll be figuring that out for years to come.”
Dozens of women have spoken out about film-industry and workplace sexual abuse in the wake of recent articles documenting decades of accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein. Among the most recent to step forward are actresses Natasha Henstridge and Olivia Munn, who on Wednesday were among six women in a Los Angeles Times report accusing producer-director Brett Ratner. Ratner’s attorney issued a statement saying his client was “confident that his name will be cleared once the current media frenzy dies down and people can objectively evaluate the nature of these claims.”