Days after Dustin Hoffman's uncomfortable panel discussion with John Oliver, a new woman has come forward and accused Hoffman of sexual misconduct. Kathryn Rossetter, who starred alongside Hoffman on Broadway's Death of a Salesman in the mid-eighties, wrote an essay about her experience for The Hollywood Reporter.
In the essay, Rossetter wrote that Hoffman helped her get the role by sending his makeup artist to help her prepare for a callback audition, and he took her to dinner with his wife after she got the role. "He was my hero," Rossetter noted.
But during the play's rehearsals, things apparently changed between the two. In the essay, Rossetter alleges that Hoffman asked if they could stop by his hotel room while walking to rehearsals after having lunch together. In the room, Rossetter claims Hoffman took off his shirt and asked for a back rub. She later explained that she thought Hoffman was attempting "method acting" at first.
By Rossetter's account, though, that alleged experience was only the start of what she refers to as "a horrific, demoralizing and abusive experience at the hands (literally) of one of my acting idols." Rossetter alleged that Hoffman groped her multiple times while they were offstage during performances.
"One night in Chicago, I felt his hand up under my slip on the inside of my thighs. I was completely surprised and tried to bat him away while watching the stage for my cues. After the show he was busy with the producer and director so I had no access to him to address it. It then happened almost every show. Six to eight shows a week," the actress wrote. "I couldn't speak to him in the moment because I was on a live mic. He kept it up and got more and more aggressive. One night he actually started to stick his fingers inside me."
Rossetter added that she eventually yelled at Hoffman, saying, "Fuck you" and "Leave me alone." It worked for three days, she wrote, but then the alleged groping continued. She also wrote that in 1985, after repeatedly enduring the alleged groping, Rossetter decided she'd had enough and grabbed Hoffman's genitals before a picture. The actress ends her essay by writing that Hoffman's alleged actions "left dirty fingerprints on my soul."
THR also included an editor's note stating that Hoffman's attorneys referred the outlet to others who'd worked on the play Death of a Salesman and couldn't corroborate Rossetter's story.
During Oliver's panel discussion with Hoffman about the 20th anniversary of 1997's Wag the Dog, Oliver asked the actor about the sexual misconduct allegations that had been leveled at the time. Anna Graham Hunter accused Hoffman of sexual harassment in a November essay for The Hollywood Reporter. Playwright Wendy Riss Gatsiounis also alleged that Hoffman harassed her in 1991.
After THR published Graham Hunter's essay, Hoffman provided the outlet with the following statement: "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."
During the panel, Hoffman told Oliver that his experience working on Tootsie proved he had "incredible respect for women."
"I would not have made that movie if I didn't have an incredible respect for women," Hoffman said at the event. "The theme of the movie is he became a better man by having been a woman."
Rossetter's essay comes at a moment where Hollywood is plagued with allegations of sexual misconduct. As she notes in her own essay, it started with the allegations against Harvey Weinstein — but that doesn't make coming forward any easier for other survivors. Still, sexual harassment can't be ignored, both in Hollywood and in other industries, and these women are incredibly brave for shining a light on the issue.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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