Dustin Hoffman’s Director Responds to On-Set Harassment Claims, Calls the Actor a ‘Kidder’

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After a former production assistant accused Dustin Hoffman of sexually harassing her on the set of Death of a Salesman, the director of the 1985 TV movie has released a statement saying that he has a different memory of Hoffman’s behavior during production. “Just watch Christian Blackwood’s wonderful documentary Private Conversations on the making of DOAS to check what a kidder Dustin was on the set, at all time, with everybody,” Volker Schlondorff wrote in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. According to the director, Anna Graham Hunter, a 17-year-old high-school senior when she interned as a PA, took Hoffman’s actions too seriously. In a first-person essay for THR, complete with letters she wrote at the time detailing Hoffman’s behavior, Hunter said the actor asked for a foot massage, inquired about her sex life, and slapped her butt. Not quite, recalls Schlondorff: “Slapping her butt on the way to the car, with driver, stage manager and PAs around, may have happened, but again in a funny way, nothing lecherous about it,” he wrote. “[Hoffman] was a clown, it was part of the way we portrayed Willy Loman as well — but he never played the power play.”

Schlondorff claims that it’s irresponsible for Hunter to level these accusations now, and suggests that Hoffman’s behavior was meant to relax her: “In her innermost she must know that this teasing was not to put her down, but to make her relax with all these celebrities around. She had a self-assured playful way herself,” he wrote. “If he knew that she would be upset when he was teasing her, he wouldn’t have done it. Not the sensitive man he was, and still is. I wish Arthur Miller was around, he would find the right words, but then he might get accused of sexually molesting Marilyn Monroe.

Death of a Salesman Director: Dustin Hoffman Was a ‘Kidder’