Dustin Hoffman is the latest in an ever-growing list of Hollywood A-listers to be accused of sexual harassment or assault in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein accusations from last month. In a guest column in the Hollywood Reporter, writer Anna Graham Hunter describes her time as a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV movie Death of a Salesman, and the sexual harassment she and other women allegedly faced at the hands of Hoffman, then 47.
Hunter wrote about the claims in her diary at the time, sending dispatches to her sister in London, with the newly published account drawn directly from her teenage years. In her decades-old letters, Hunter described being at first flattered by the attention of Hoffman, a Hollywood star 30 years her senior. She went on to detail her feelings of inadequacy, her growing disillusionment with the industry, and her naïve confusion over how sweet her harasser was being: “Dustin’s a pig, but I like him a lot.”
Hunter relayed to her sister the way Hoffman allegedly talked about women’s body parts, whether describing how he likes breasts to look—“I don’t like them when they’re tan, because then they look like part of the body”—or requesting the body parts of the production assistants at mealtimes. She accused Hoffman of requesting the breasts of another assistant for lunch and—in a particularly offensive incident Hunter says she originally struggled to share—telling Hunter that he’ll have “a hard-boiled egg … and a soft-boiled clitoris” for breakfast.
She alleges he repeatedly groped her ass, despite attempts to slap his hand away, and made direct comments about her sex life. Her account seems to suggest that others on set were aware of his behavior. Hunter writes that looking back on her letters her 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.”
She went on to say:
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. As to how it fits into my own pattern, I imagine I’ll be figuring that out for years to come.
Hoffman has responded to the Hollywood Reporter regarding Hunter’s claims in the article, saying, “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.”
This is not the first time his on set behavior has been called into question. In a well-known incident on the set of Kramer v. Kramer six years prior, Hoffman slapped a 29-year-old Meryl Streep across the face, leaving a red mark, and taunted her about her boyfriend’s death, all in the name of method acting. And he himself acknowledged during a 2012 BAFTA event focusing on his career that he has never been one to “censor his mouth”: When he bumped into his childhood acting hero José Ferrer on the subway while still dressed as the woman he played in Tootsie, Hoffman claimed to have told him he admired his work before asking, “Would you mind very much if I sucked your cock?” Ferrer was said to have stared at him a moment before replying, “Not right now.”