Dustin Hoffman has cited his film 'Tootsie' as evidence of his respect for women.

Dustin Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman

The 80-year-old actor was accused by Anna Graham Hunter, who worked as an intern on his movie 'Death of a Salesman' in 1985, of sexually harassing her on the set 32 years ago.

Anna alleged Dustin "grabbed" her ass on the set and asked her to give him a foot massage and her claims led to him issuing a statement in which he said: "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."

Hoffman has now been confronted about the allegation by 'Last Week Tonight' host John Oliver at a panel event to promote the 20th anniversary of his film 'Wag the Dog' in New York.

Hoffman defended himself vehemently during the discussion as the British comedian and TV presenter refused to let the subject lie.

According to The Washington Post, Hoffman referenced 'Tootsie' as he said: "I would not have made that movie if I didn't have an incredible respect for women. The theme of the movie is he became a better man by having been a woman."

The 1982 film sees Dustin star as an unsuccessful actor who disguises himself as a woman in order to get a role in a soap opera.

'The Graduate' star said that when dressed as a woman he found some of the men on set ignored him and that gave him insight into what it was like to be a woman.

He recalled: "I said when I came home to my wife that I never realised men were that were brutal, that men are that obvious. They didn't find me attractive and they just erased me ... What makes me sad is that I grew up in an environment in which we were taught to want the girls on the covers of magazines, the models, and I said to my wife 'Look at how many interesting women I passed up ... look at how many women were erased by me because of the generation I was born.' That was a very strong reason for me wanting to make that movie."

HBO presenter Oliver has won praise on social media for forcing Dustin to confront the allegations, but was heckled by some members of the audience for his harsh confrontational manner.

During the discussion, Oliver accused Hoffman of only apologising after being encouraged to do so by his agent, and stressed that it was a conditional apology "if" there was anything he "might" have done, adding: "It didn't happen the way she reported".

Oliver said: "I'm not the moral arbiter of anything. It's just ... 'It's not reflective of who I am.'

"It's that kind of response to this stuff that p***es me off. Because it is reflective of who you were. If it happened - and you've given no evidence to show that it didn't happen - then there was a period in time, for a while, when you were creeping around women. So it feels like a cop out to say 'Well, this isn't me.' Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?"

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