John Oliver says his grilling of Dustin Hoffman over sexual assault allegations was a “failure”

Oliver says he "tried and failed"

John Oliver has expressed his disappointment in his own public grilling of Dustin Hoffman over sexual assault allegations levelled at the actor, saying that he “tried and failed”.

Oliver was chairing a panel marking the 20th anniversary of 1997 film Wag The Dog when he grilled Hoffman over the allegations he faced. Former production assistant Anna Graham-Hunter had accused Hoffman of groping her on the set of 1985 movie Death of a Salesman when she was 17. Video of Oliver grilling Hoffman onstage at the event went viral online (scroll below to watch).

“I knew the stories were out there, and I heard there were a few more coming, so [bringing them up] felt unavoidable,” Oliver has now explained while appearing on The Russell Howard Hour. “We had to have a discussion about it.” Oliver also said that warned the event hosts that he would confront Hoffman about the allegations.


“It became such a big story, but it became about my questions rather than [Hoffman’s] answers,” Oliver said. “The questions weren’t particularly remarkable, but his answers were… not grea … it didn’t really go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad.”

“I wanted it to become something more constructive,” Oliver continued. “I tried and failed.”

During the panel talk, Oliver told Hoffman that he had “given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen”, while the actor accused Oliver of “making a very quick judgment”.

In the weeks following the panel, Hoffman has been accused of sexual misconduct by more women. He denies all accusations.

  • For help, advice or more information regarding sexual harassment, assault and rape in the UK, visit the Rape Crisis charity website. In the US, visit RAINN.