Volker Schlöndorff releases statement on Dustin Hoffman allegations

Death Of A Salesman director weighs in

by Jennie Kermode and Anne-Katrin Titze

Volker Schlöndorff on the set of Return To Montauk
Volker Schlöndorff on the set of Return To Montauk Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Volker Schlöndorff, who directed the 1985 film Death Of A Salesman, has sent us the following statement regarding the allegations about Dustin Hoffman made on Wednesday. The claims made by writer Anna Graham Hunter related to Hoffman's conduct on the set of the film.

"As director of Death Of A Salesman, I’d like to make the following statement, standing by Dustin Hoffman who is accused of sexual harassment on the set of the Salesman.

"I welcome the #me.too campaign and do not want to sound dismissive of what I consider a serious cause.

"However one should not smear, tar and feather indistinctively every male around. Calling Dustin Hoffman a predator is simply going too far. I hope this fades away. It’s plain silly. 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. Standard Monday morning question was indeed, "Did you have good sex over the weekend?" A joke, a running gag, everybody laughed at. Foot massage? Yes indeed, he was 16 hours standing on the set (as me he never sat down), so he was tired and besides there is a line in the play about it: "these arch supports are killing me". Dustin Hoffman, ever method acting, made it his own. Everybody gave him a foot massage now and then, on the set, amidst the chaos, nothing ambiguous about it.

"As to the joke who was going to get Warren Beatty, only a teenager in her unlimited fantasy could take it seriously. 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 was a clown, it was part of the way we portrayed Willy Loman as well - but he never played the power play. He was teasing the young, nervous interns, mostly to make them feel included on the set, treating them as equals to all the senior technicians. She may have got it wrong, confiding it to her diary then, but as a grown-up 30 years later she should know that his was no 'sexual harassment', and not call him a 'predator'. 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. 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."

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