John Oliver On The ‘Failure’ Of His Dustin Hoffman Chat: ‘It Became About My Questions Rather Than His Answers’

Much was made of John Oliver’s decision to question Dustin Hoffman about the accusations of sexual misconduct against him during a recent film panel in New York. While presenting an anniversary showing of Wag The Dog with Robert De Niro and Hoffman, Oliver decided to bring up the accusations against the legendary actor and received a testy reaction in return. The response to Oliver’s decision received a mix of backlash and support, with many questioning why the host decided to use that moment to bring up serious accusations.

But as it turns out, Oliver told the organizers of his plans to bring up the topic to Hoffman during the panel and he was given the OK according to a recent interview on The Russell Howard Hour:

“I had spoken to the organizers of this event twice before when it was clear he might be there. I said ‘If he is going to be there, I have to ask him about this. I understand you might not want your event to be about this, so you might want to get someone else,’ and they said ‘No no, we want you to do it.’ Then when he confirmed, I said ‘I am going to ask him.’ So it was a collision course was set at that point.”

While some loud voices criticized Oliver, like Michael Rappaport in a series of profane posts on social media, the decision to press Hoffman had support due to it bucking trends and breaking silence in the wake of the Weinstein scandal. This was the main reason the Last Week Tonight host took on Hoffman, even if he ended up considering it a failure in the end:

“It felt unavoidable and that we had to have a discussion about it. It wasn’t ideal but it became such a big story – but it became about my questions rather than his answers. But the questions weren’t particularly remarkable, but his answers were kind of, not great. That was the point of it. But it didn’t really go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad.”

While the response did focus on John Oliver’s questions, some would likely say that this is because it was so unique. Silence has been the norm for so long, opening up for questions when the opportunity is presented was refreshing. Hoffman’s answers were an expected result, but Oliver’s position was unique.

(Via Russell Howard Hour)