Dustin Hoffman has been added to the growing list of men accused of sexual harassment and misconduct in the wake of Harvey Weinstein, with writer Anna Graham Hunter saying the actor groped, propositioned, and generally behaved lasciviously toward her when she was 17.
In a column for The Hollywood Reporter, Hunter shares excerpts from letters she wrote to her sister while interning as a production assistant on the 1985 TV movie of Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman, co-starring John Malkovich and Stephen Lang. In them, Hunter details her very first encounter with the actor, then in his mid-40s, where he asked Hunter for a foot massage. She complied, opening the door to a series of flirtations and advances from Hoffman that included asking Hunter about her sex life and—on one occasion—groping her four separate times as she walked Hoffman to his limo.
One of Hunter’s diary entries reads:
January 31, 1985 Today, I realized some things about this business that scare me. First of all, Dustin’s a lech. I’m completely disillusioned. After Tootsie, I thought I wanted to marry him.
Elizabeth asked him what he wanted for lunch and he said, “Your left breast.”
“OK, your right breast.”
“You pig.” She walked away.
Pam* [office assistant] said, “If [producer] Bob Colesberry had heard that, she would have been gone in a second.” I know Dustin would never let that happen, but it’s still scary.
Today, when I was walking Dustin to his limo, he felt my ass four times. 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?
When Hunter was similarly tasked with taking his breakfast order, she says, Hoffman replied, “I’ll have a hard-boiled egg… and a soft-boiled clitoris.” Hunter was so humiliated by his entourage’s laughter, she says, she ran to cry in the bathroom.
Hunter—who says now that she “loved the attention from Dustin Hoffman. Until I didn’t”—recalls discussing his behavior toward her with her female supervisor, only to be told that “for the sake of the production we have to sacrifice some of our values and just let it roll over our heads. She said we should try to have a sense of humor and just giggle and slap his hands or something.” Meanwhile, she says Hoffman learned of their conversations and confronted her in front of Malkovich, Lang, and “the whole fucking studio” by shouting at her in the hallway, “Anna! So you think I’m a sexist pig, huh?” In a subsequent confrontation, Hunter says, “I told him that I didn’t appreciate his wandering hands or his comments. He apologized and said he would stop.”
While Hoffman did indeed stop groping her, Hunter says the inappropriate comments continued. During a set visit from Hoffman’s Ishtar co-star Warren Beatty, for example, Hunter says Hoffman teased her by saying, “You might as well have undressed yourself. You were saying, ‘Fuck me, fuck me, Warren.’”
In the end, the teenage Hunter concludes, “Dustin’s a pig, but I like him a lot.” Today Hunter writes:
“My heart aches for the awkward virgin with the bad hair who had only been kissed three times in her life, laughing as the man her father’s age talked about breasts and sex. I want to weep that she found this charming... At 49, I understand what Dustin Hoffman did as it fits into the larger pattern of what women experience in Hollywood and everywhere. He was a predator, I was a child, and this was sexual harassment.”
Hoffman has issued a response statement that reads, “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.”