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John Oliver confronts Dustin Hoffman over sexual harassment claims

Dustin Hoffman in TV movie Death of a Salesman

"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver questioned actor Dustin Hoffman at a Tribeca Film panel on December 1 about sexual harassment allegations made against him.

The confrontation took place a month after Hoffman apologized over allegations that he sexually harassed a 17-year-old high school student while filming 1985 drama Death of a Salesman.

Needless to say, the Monday night conversation got heated when Oliver pressed Hoffman to answer for the allegations. Hoffman responded. "From a few things you've read, you've made an incredible assumption about me".

While an occasional member of the film's audience may have wanted Oliver to ease up, a vast majority supported him with cheers when he made a good point, and cries of encouragement.

In response, Hoffman basically admitted that his statement wasn't genuine ("If you get into a dispute, it lengthens the argument"), accused Hunter of lying ("First of all, it didn't happen the way she reported"), told Oliver that "You weren't there" ("I'm glad", Oliver replied), and accused the moderator of "putting me on display". It is reflective of who you were. He said, "I never met her; if I met her, it was in concert with other people". An increasingly angry Hoffman pointed to his role in Tootsie, in which he dressed as a woman, as evidence of his respect for women. The exchange, however, marked a rarity in the post-Harvey Weinstein era, which has seen accused harassers generally offer short statements, if they replied at all, about the allegations made against them; very few have engaged in long public conversations about it, and nearly none have sounded as defiant as Hoffman did Monday night.

Dustin Hoffman and his wife Lisa Hoffman

The response of the crowd was said to have been mixed, with at least one woman yelling at Oliver to drop the subject, while many others cheered. "It is reflective of who you were". There was a period of time when you were a creeper around women.

Oliver and Hoffman butted heads over the issue for the remainder of the panel. At another point the actor asked Oliver incredulously, "Do you believe the stuff that you read?" Oliver said he thought about not saying anything, but felt as though it would make him a part of the problem if he stayed silent.

After several minutes of arguing, during which Hoffman said Oliver is not keeping an "open mind, the host read a line from Hunter's column in The Hollywood Reporter and all hell broke loose".

Even though we disagree politically, I am a huge fan of John Oliver. "No one stands up to powerful men".

"There is a point in her not bringing this up for 40 years", the 80-year-old countered. "That leads to me at home later tonight hating myself, asking, 'Why the f**k didn't I say something?" Let it go", and "Thank you for believing women", Oliver added, "I can't leave certain things unaddressed.