Three women who have accused Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct say they are still able to watch his movies because they are able to separate the artist from his actions. One of his alleged victims, Cori Thomas, said she still has admiration for him — though she now sees him as a fallen idol. “I wanted to be a method actor like him. I was so impressed with his performances in Midnight Cowboy and that sort of thing. So I really wanted to do that kind of work. And so I think I feel, felt just disappointed. I felt disillusioned,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I felt disappointed by somebody who I thought was maybe bigger than life and maybe that’s the lesson is that nobody is bigger than life. You know we’re all humans, but at the same time, there’s also right and wrong. You know everyone is accountable.”
A handful of women have come forward to accuse the Tootsie star of sexual misconduct, some of which allegedly occurred decades ago. The 80-year-old initially apologized for making one accuser feel uncomfortable with his comments, but in a testy conversation with comedian John Oliver at public talk earlier this month, he denied any wrongdoing. His representative didn’t return a message from the AP seeking comment Tuesday on the women’s allegations.
Three of his accusers spoke to various media outlets Tuesday, detailing their experiences with Hoffman and trying to explain why they decided to come forward now. Kathryn Rossetter, an actress who shared the stage with Hoffman in the 1984 Broadway revival of “Death of a Salesman,” said she knows she’s going to “take a beating” for waiting to tell her story, but she said the sexual misconduct allegations that toppled Harvey Weinstein gave her the impetus to speak up.
“I was committed to having my whole story published because it’s such a long story of how he was a hero and then it was a bait-and-switch in the aftermath,” she said. Rossetter saw Hoffman as her hero when he helped her land her first Broadway play, but things quickly soured when she says he started repeatedly groping her backstage. She claims he even tried to penetrate her with his finger. Even after she was finally able to gain the courage to come forward to tell her story, Rossetter still struggles with the shame, especially when she had to break the news to her elderly father.
“It’s not easy. I deal with it by trying not to look at all the negative comments. I know the truth. I know I have to live my truth,” she said. Anna Graham Hunter was the first woman to come forward. She was a 17-year-old high school senior working as an intern on the film version of “Death of a Salesman” in 1985. She remembers the actor asking her for a foot rub on her first day on the set. She obliged but said it made her uncomfortable. She claims the actor often used sexual language and even grabbed her buttocks several times. Hunter says she struck him in an effort to make it stop. She carried a sense of guilt with her for years.
“Most of us have stories like this and we deal with it in different ways,” she said. Thomas was a friend of one of Hoffman’s daughters. When she was 16, she ended up in the actor’s hotel room waiting for her mother to pick her up. She recalls Hoffman leaving the room to take a shower. He returned in a towel and exposed himself, then asked for a foot rub, according to Thomas.
But for years Thomas didn’t consider herself a victim: “I was dismissing it — I was saying, ‘Oh well but he didn’t really do anything bad to me.'” All of the women still appreciate some of Hoffman’s work — albeit with some caveats. Rossetter said she can watch his films dating from before her alleged assault took place.
“I can watch Dustin’s movies before ‘Death of a Salesman’ and I’ve watched — I’ve seen them after, but I see it differently. I just can’t look at him the same way,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking because he is a good actor.” Hunter said she still has respect for Hoffman’s talent.
“He is a brilliant, brilliant actor, you know,” she said. “So I don’t want to be robbed of the movies. I love movies, you know, they don’t always love me back.”