The two were both present for a 20th-anniversary screening of the political satire Wag the Dog. Oliver was there to moderate a question-and-answer session about the film.
The discussion turned testy when moderator Oliver brought up ongoing conversations about sexual harassment in the film industry.
Hoffman seemed blindsided and defensive by the line of questioning from the host of Last Week Tonight. Hoffman explained the accusation was 40 years old.
“I don’t love that response either,” Oliver said. Hoffman shot back: “What response do you want?” Hoffman maintained that he did nothing wrong.
Actress Anna Graham Hunter has alleged that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate comments when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV movie Death of a Salesman.
After Hunter published her allegations, other stories surfaced about Hoffman’s alleged inappropriate behaviour with former co-stars.
“You’ve made one statement in print,” Oliver asked Hoffman. “Does that feel like enough to you?”
“First of all, it didn’t happen the way she reported,” Hoffman replied, later adding that his comments had been misconstrued “at the click of a button.”
Hoffman also said that he “still” isn’t sure who Hunter is. He said, “I never met her; if I met her, it was in concert with other people.”
“It’s that part of the response to this stuff that pisses me off,” Oliver said.
Hoffman had said in an earlier statement that the incident “is not reflective of who I am,” which Oliver seized on and called a “cop-out,” adding: “It is reflective of who you were.”
Oliver continued, “You’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen. There was a period of time when you were creeping around women. It feels like a cop-out to say, ‘Well, this isn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”
“You weren’t there,” Hoffman said.
“I’m glad,” Oliver responded. He went on to read back part of Hoffman’s apology. The actor asked Oliver if he actually believed Hunter’s allegations.
“She would have no reason to lie,” the Last Week Tonight host said.
Hoffman responded: “You’ve put me on display here. You have indicted me . . . That’s not innocent until proven guilty.”
The back-and-forth came at a 20th-anniversary screening panel at the 92nd Street Y in New York. Onstage in addition to Oliver and Hoffman were Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal and director Barry Levinson.
“I get no pleasure from having this conversation,” Oliver said. Referring to Hoffman, he added: “But you and I are not the victims here.”
The exchange was reported by The Washington Post, which also posted a video of part of the conversation.
—With files from the Associated Press