Steven Spielberg said Tuesday that he never witnessed any inappropriate or troubling behavior by actor Dustin Hoffman on the set of 1991’s Hook.
“I had no experience with Dustin in any way, shape, or form, like the allegations,” Spielberg told BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith at a forum in New York City.
Hoffman is facing accusations of sexual misconduct from three women who said the actor groped or made inappropriate comments to them in the 1980s and early ’90s.
But Spielberg, who almost worked with Hoffman on 1988’s Rain Man before withdrawing from the project, said he was not attempting to “excuse” the allegations against the actor.
“It doesn’t excuse an allegation. I’m just saying that I, in working very closely with him, never experienced that,” Spielberg said.
The director was joined at Tuesday’s BuzzFeed panel by the two stars of his latest film, The Post, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, who both defended the idea of separating the art produced by controversial figures.
Streep also said she thinks that if more women were in positions of power in Hollywood, then the industry would not have tolerated or enabled the behavior of influential alleged predators like Harvey Weinstein.
“If the boards of the company were half female, there wouldn’t ever have been payoffs to anybody,” Streep said. “None of this — the shenanigans wouldn’t have occurred.”
Spielberg, meanwhile, said Hollywood needs an industrywide code of conduct to battle sexual harassment and allow more victims to come forward.
“There needs to be some kind of a code of conduct that everybody signs on with, who everybody is in general agreement with,” the director said, when asked about the rise of the #MeToo movement.
He said that an ideal set of rules would allow “more men and women to come forward with things that they may not have come forward [with], let’s say, six months ago, to talk about.”
Spielberg said he felt there needed to be a system inside Hollywood for people to be more open about sexual misconduct, instead of “just relying on each studio’s HR.”
“This is obviously a national reckoning,” he said of the #MeToo movement. “It’s a global referendum.”