John Oliver finally spoke out about his controversial grilling of Dustin Hoffman earlier this month, calling the confrontation a failure.
"It became about my questions rather than his answers," Oliver said on Sky One's "The Russell Howard Hour" in a new interview. "My questions were not particularly remarkable. His answers were kind of not great. So I think that was the point of it. But it didn't really go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad."
Many people were left confused and even angry after the "Last Week Tonight" host questioned Hoffman about allegations of sexual misconduct during what many anticipated to be a light Q&A panel session before a 20th-anniversary screening of political comedy "Wag the Dog." What they got was Oliver asking pointed questions and getting non-answers from the star, who now faces multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. It was jarring, and clearly off-putting to many, based on the immediate negative reaction across social media.
Oliver said that he did speak with the event organizers at least twice before the event, telling them that he was going to address the allegations. "I felt it was unavoidable," he said. "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.'"
According to Oliver, "A collision course was set at that point. I felt like I had to bring it up. I knew that the stories were out there and I knew that there were a few more coming. It felt unavoidable and that we had to have a discussion about it." He admits, though, that it didn't really work.
"I wanted it to become something more constructive, but it was clear pretty early on that was not going to happen," he said, before adding, "I did try."
Hoffman evaded Oliver's questions at the event regarding allegations from Anna Graham Hunter claiming he had groped her when she was 17. "I still don't know who this woman is," Hoffman told Oliver. "I never met her."
Since the interview, three more women have come forward, bringing the total of Hoffman accusers to six. The actor has denied the charges through a letter from his attorney to Variety, calling the latest wave "defamatory falsehoods."