Updated Nov. 2, 2017, noon PT: Dustin Hoffman has been accused of sexual harassment by another woman. This time, playwright Wendy Riss Gatsiounis has come forward, saying Hoffman reached out to her in 1991 saying he wanted to adapt a play she had written, but during a meeting, he asked her probing personal questions.
“[Hoffman] says, ‘Before you start, let me ask you one question, Wendy — have you ever been intimate with a man over 40?'” she told Variety. “I’ll never forget — he moves back, he opens his arms, and he says, ‘It would be a whole new body to explore.'”
Screenwriter Murray Schisgal was also present at that meeting, Riss Gatsiounis said. When Hoffman then asked Riss Gatsiounis to go shopping with him, Schisgal encouraged her to do it. She refused, Hoffman left, and Schisgal scrapped the play, saying it was too “film noir.”
Riss Gatsiounis said she told her agent about the meeting and was assured it wasn’t her fault.
“[My agent] said that she didn’t want me to think that it was something I had done,” she explained. “She had heard rumors about him for years.”
If that’s the case, it’s entirely possible more women will continue to come forward now that Hoffman’s name is out there. What was initially a handful of accusers turned into dozens in the case of Harvey Weinstein. We just hope that isn’t the case with Hoffman as well.
The onslaught of accusations against powerful men in the entertainment industry continues, proving yet again how ingrained the culture of sexual assault and harassment has always been in Hollywood. This time, a former production assistant is accusing Dustin Hoffman of harassing and groping her when she worked on set with him in the ’80s.
Anna Graham Hunter was only 17 when she worked on Death of a Salesman, which starred Hoffman. In an essay for The Hollywood Reporter, quoting letters she wrote to her sister at the time, she details Hoffman’s frequent harassment of her and other PAs.
“[Another PA] and I were discussing why he is so nice to us,” she wrote in one letter. “One reason is because he likes girls. Jenna is in eighth grade. Another is probably because he gets tired of all the kissy-assy people.”
By her second week on set, Hunter wrote that Hoffman had asked her, a high school senior, about her sex life. She alleged he had also groped her multiple times. She reported his behavior to a supervisor, who told Hoffman she had complained.
“Later, I was delivering lunches when John, Stephen, and Dustin came down the hall and he shouted, ‘Anna! So you think I’m a sexist pig, huh? Anna!’” she wrote. “The whole fucking studio heard him. So I told him that I didn’t appreciate his wandering hands or his comments. He apologized and said he would stop.”
More: Harvey Weinstein’s Alleged Sex Crimes Brought Back Memories of My Own Harassment
Hunter also wrote that her supervisor victim-blamed her and told her harassment was something she would just have to tolerate because it came with the job.
“The bad news is [my supervisor] said it’s too bad [the harassment] became an issue. Hell, I didn’t make it an issue. He did,” she wrote in a 1985 letter. “She said 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.”
In her essay, Hunter explained that she was charmed by Hoffman’s behavior at first, but her attitude quickly turned sour when his advances became physical.
“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,” she wrote.
Hoffman has responded to Hunter’s accusations with a statement, 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.”
Hunter now joins literally hundreds of women who have come forward in recent weeks to expose deeply rooted sexism and violence in Hollywood. Just this week, Kevin Spacey and director Brett Ratner have also been accused.