Variety: Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed a young playwright in 1991

55th New York Film Festival - "The Meyerowitz Stories"

Hey, remember how Dustin Hoffman is a flaming pile of trash? Yeah. Previously, we heard about how Hoffman assaulted Meryl Streep on one of the first days of filming Kramer v. Kramer. This week, we heard that Hoffman sexually harassed, humiliated and groped a 17-year-old production assistant in 1985. And now a third story: Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed a struggling playwright in 1991. You can read her full story here at Variety. The basic gist:

Wendy Riss Gatsiounis was a struggling playwright working a temp job in New York City in 1991 when she got what she hoped would be her big break. Her play “A Darker Purpose” had been given a staged reading at the Public Theater, and she had scheduled a meeting with Dustin Hoffman and “Tootsie” screenwriter Murray Schisgal to discuss adapting it into a feature film for Hoffman to star in. “It was a huge thing,” she told Variety. But, Riss Gatsiounis said, the two meetings that took place at the Rockefeller Center office of Hoffman’s Punch Productions led to confusion and self-doubt after Hoffman allegedly propositioned her and attempted to persuade her to leave the office and accompany him to a store in a nearby hotel. Riss Gatsiounis was in her 20s; Hoffman was 53.

According to Riss Gatsiounis, the first meeting began with Schisgal asking whether she had a boyfriend or husband. Hoffman cut Schisgal off. “Dustin Hoffman was playfully like, ‘Murray, shut up. Don’t you know you can’t talk to women that way anymore? Times are changing,’” Riss Gatsiounis said. The tenor of the meeting became more professional. Hoffman and Schisgal asked if Riss Gatsiounis would be willing to rework her pitch for a movie version of “A Darker Purpose” with Hoffman in mind. The play — and Riss Gatsiounis’ original movie pitch — featured a protagonist in his 20s. Riss Gatsiounis agreed and spent the next three weeks on the rewrite. She then had a second meeting with Hoffman and Schisgal to give them the revised pitch. But she never got to discuss the new idea with them.

“I go in, and this time it’s, like, Dustin Hoffman’s really different,” Riss Gatsiounis said. “He says, ‘Before you start, let me ask you one question, Wendy — have you ever been intimate with a man over 40?’” Flustered, Riss Gatsiounis attempted to laugh off the comment. But Hoffman persisted. “I’ll never forget — he moves back, he opens his arms, and he says, ‘It would be a whole new body to explore,’” she said. “I’m trying to go back to my pitch, and I’m trying to talk about my play. Then Dustin Hoffman gets up and he says he has to do some clothing shopping at a nearby hotel, and did I want to come along? He’s like, ‘Come on, come to this nearby hotel.’”

Riss Gatsiounis added that Schisgal, who was also present, encouraged her to go with Hoffman.

“I’m just completely flustered,” Riss Gatsiounis said. “I don’t know what to make of this whole thing. And Murray’s like, ‘You can go! It’s okay, go! Go!’” But Riss Gatsiounis repeatedly declined to go with Hoffman. “And Dustin Hoffman finally leaves, because I’m saying I don’t want to go to the hotel,” Riss Gatsiounis said. “And then Murray Schisgal says, ‘Look, we’re not really interested in your play, because it’s too film noir-ish.’ And that was it.”

Riss Gatsiounis said that she left the meeting and, “close to tears,” called her agent Mary Meagher from a payphone and recounted the meeting to her. “She said that she didn’t want me to think that it was something I had done,” Riss Gatsiounis said. “She had heard rumors about him for years.”

[From Variety]

Variety noted that Hoffman’s spokesperson declined to comment, which I guess is better than his bulls–t statement about respecting women. I believe you, Wendy Riss Gatsiounis. It sounds like these two men just took a meeting with her because she was a young woman and they wanted to harass her. They were never going to take her seriously – she was just their plaything, disposable as soon as she refused to go to the hotel with Hoffman. Pigs.

BFI London Film Festival The Meyerowitz Stories

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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40 Responses to “Variety: Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed a young playwright in 1991”

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  1. HH says:

    I somehow missed the Streep and Hoffman story, so I clicked on that link too. UUUUGGGHHH!!! I’m unsure how my blood pressure is still normal in 2017.

    • SKF says:

      Even worse is the story he told about losing his virginity. Basically he tells it like a beautiful silly moment but what it reads like is that his older brother’s girlfriend was drunk and the guys were taking turns in a gang bang and Dustin went in, pretended he was his brother, had sex with her (raped because pretending you’re someone else makes it non-consensual) and then the door opened because the next guy was coming in and the girl saw it wasn’t her boyfriend and screamed. It sounds horrifying.

      • Natalie S says:

        wtf. I want to throw up. Wth did I just read. That poor woman was gang-raped and he tells that story like it’s cute. How narcissistic is he to turn that into a story about himself.

  2. PIa says:

    I think the last bastion is pedophilia in Hollywood, that really needs to be addressed.

    • frisbee says:

      I think all of it needs to be addressed, it is all abuse and it’s all due to power imbalance between the abuser and the abused, age, gender notwithstanding.

    • VintageS says:

      I agree. I think the females sexual harassment is the tip of the iceberg. As hard as it is for women to come forward with this, think how hard it is for someone who was sexually abused as a child with the possible consent by parents or looking the other way.

      Elijah Woods did an interview a while back saying he saw some scary stuff but he was protected as his parents stuck to him like glue. With all the stage mothers out there and the desperation for fame (think the mother that sold her 13 year old daughter down the river to Polanski) I think the pedophilia is rampant.

  3. Talie says:

    I soured on him after reading a long Vanity Fair profile on Meryl Streep…he treated her badly on Kramer vs Kramer, taunting her about the death of her boyfriend.

  4. Anastasia says:

    Honestly, at this point, I consider all men to be sexual predators to some degree until proven otherwise.

    • Natalia says:

      That’s right. It’s why I gave up on men many years ago. Too many great women around, too few decent men worth our time and energy. Sad but true reality about our society. selfish power trippy little boys in men’s bodies. Some women get lucky; most don’t.

    • QueenB says:

      There are some hot ones you can bang but as people all men are trash. You wont find exceptions, just men who havent been caught yet.

  5. midigo says:

    This makes me cry, really.
    How many times I had to experience this sort of behaviour when I was a young professional. You work your a.. off, you leave your children with a nanny until nightfall in order to present your projects in the best possible way and then you meet this kind of a..holes making jokes, staring at your nipples instead of focusing on the presentation and at the end asking you out to have a proper discussion…

    • DM2 says:

      Oh lord, this. How many Dustin Hoffmans have we met, not only in the workforce, but outside it also. From men asking you if you’re “cold” in the office while looking at your boobs, to asking you ‘when was the last time you had sex?’, apropos of nothing. ”You’re so pretty! Smile more!”. You come home not exhausted from the workday, but from the mental gymnastics going on in your head from weathering the comments from men who believe they have the god-given right to comment on your physical self, and don’t give a rat’s ass what’s going on in your mind.

      • Ksenia says:

        All of this. Being sexually harassed used to somehow always surprise me, as if I were deeply stupid or naïve. Now that I no longer work outside my home, it’s a relief to feel free there. However, jogging, my favorite exercise, is difficult b/c of all the featureless, almost faceless male voices rising around me like loose, colorless balloons: the catcalls, the obscenities, the obnoxious come-ons. When I was first married, I actually thought my wedding ring would ward some of these men off, but no. Sad that I thought that protection from men could only come in the form of another man “possessing” me…Sad that as women we should need so much protection for our very bodies and spirits and psyches at all.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      Yup. Every job I had in my late teens through my 20s.

  6. smee says:

    What kind of a shiz are you to find pleasure out of scamming ambitious young into meeting with you just so you can pressure them into sex? What an “artist” he is.

    Def read the post about what he did to Meryl Streep while filming K vs. K – infuriating.

  7. CommentingBunny says:

    Dustin Hoffman is a piece of sh!t. The Jezebel story on him includes a link to a Playboy article where he admits to rape. Of course he doesn’t call it that, he just tells the story of how he lost his virginity to his brothers girlfriend who thought he was his brother. Best case scenario, he raped her by fraud. Worst case? The story he tells is stomach churning and really sounds like he’s describing taking part in a gang rape of a dunk woman.

    In his words (TRIGGER WARNING):

    HOFFMAN: My parents went to Las Vegas one New Year’s Eve weekend, and my brother Ronny threw a party. I loved that he let me be part of it—I was 15, and he’s seven years older. I cooked steaks. It was one or two in the morning, and I saw a line of guys standing outside a bedroom door. They said, “Do you want to go next?” “What do you mean?” “Barbara’s in there.” I had met Barbara, a beautiful older woman, about 20. She was what in those days we called a nymphomaniac, which is not a word you hear anymore. She was servicing these guys, one after the other. I had never been laid, and I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I went in. It was dark, and she said, “Is that you, Ronny?” I said yes, lying for fear that she’d reject me. I wasn’t old enough to drive a car, so I thought maybe I wasn’t old enough to drive a woman. I remember whistling because I wanted to appear relaxed as I was taking off my clothes. It was wonderful. I came quickly and kept humping and humping. I thought, Is that all there is? I kept waiting for the next fireworks. The humping went on for about 20 minutes until somebody opened the door. It was just like a movie: A shaft of light was thrown from the hallway onto my face, and she screamed because I wasn’t my brother.

    Link to the interview:

    Link to the Jezebel article:

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      He is an actual animal, I feel sick after reading that. How is treating another human like meat a quirky little story to tell in an interview.

    • Julianna says:


    • Samantha says:

      That is a horrific story!! Wow, I always liked him, what a shame. The fact that he did this and talked about it later…
      Also, if “Barbara” had come forward with this story she woudn’t have been believed.

    • No. Nonononono. How absolutely disgusting. That story made me physically ill and the way he tells it, like it’s some cute little coming of age story… vomit.

    • smee says:

      “I couldn’t believe my good fortune”
      “She was, what we called in those days, a nymphomaniac”

    • FF says:


      Wow. Even the “logic” he’s using to rationlise raping Barbara doesn’t make sense: she’s a nymphomaniac so it’s okay to pretend he’s his brother in order to hoodwink her into sleeping with him, and yet her very first reaction upon finding out that he’s not his brother is to scream?

      Sounds superconsensual.

      So he’s always been a creep.

    • JennaR says:

      Wow, I hadn’t seen this before. I feel physically ill.

    • Lisa says:

      oh my god. First time reading this, and it isn’t new. So much gets buried about our beloved celebrities. It’s disgusting.

  8. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I honestly believe there are thousands of these stories. And each one should be heard.

  9. Penelope says:

    He’s a despicable, disgusting person. Vomit.

    • Natalia says:

      Well it’s a good thing he’s made a lot of movies for the money only in recent years. Got a feeling his next movies won’t do so well. Here’s hoping. But in reality, pigs like this never learn. They sit in their ivory towers rationalizing and continuing their behavior.

      • Jayna says:

        Yeah. He will say, “I’m just a jokester Things are so politically correct now. You can’t even tease a woman anymore without it being taken the wrong way. Poor.
        me”. His wife and adult kids will nod and think all of this is so unfair.

  10. Kathryn says:

    I’m ill. And his first time story? OMFG

  11. What's Inside says:

    He liked the pretty young girls. Made me think of an interview he did where he turned the conversation with the reporter to comment on the waitress looking like a young Catherine Ross.

  12. Lisa says:

    The Spacey stories didn’t hit as hard as this does. I didn’t really have a personal attachment to him, so there was no loyalty there. But Dustin… DUSTIN. This is very disappointing. I liked him, and while I had no illusions that he was an easygoing and amiable guy, I never imagined he was like this. There’s another story that dates back to 1985, too, where he made a crude comment about a 17-year-old intern’s body.

    Our last good man is Al Pacino, lol. If I ever see his name in a headline like this, just take me out back and shoot me.

    • Jayna says:

      And Liam Neeson and Tom Hanks.

      • Lisa says:

        Oh yes, Hanx!

        Actually, Pacino admitted to following random women and making out with them before he got famous. He tried it again after The Godfather and the girl was all like, “Hi, Michael,” and he hated it because his anonymity was gone, lol. And as much as I laughed and was like, Oh nice, imagine making out with Al, realistically, it’s not that cool. You’re going about your business and some guy starts following you and giving you the eye? He wasn’t a hot, famous actor to a lot of these women, he was just some man on the street. They consented to make out with him, but still.

  13. Ally says:

    Good grief, sexual harassment is a major plot point in Tootsie, and intelligently treated. This is so depressing.

  14. Chantal says:

    I am surprise at the Dustin story. I thought for sure the next one was going to be Jack Nicholson. He always seems creepy to me and so overrated. Michelle Pfeiffer said AL Pacino was not nice to her in scarface. I am not sure how? I better not hear Robert Redford and Robertie Dinero!

    • Lisa says:

      Pacino and Pfeiffer worked together again in ’91 and she said he had softened up. He said he probably wasn’t that nice to her either, I think it was a mixture of method acting and just taking himself too seriously. They got along on the set of Frankie and Johnny and had a lot of fun with Gary Marshall :)

    • Dinah Soar says:

      Don’t know if it is true, but a friend told me a story about a doorman who worked at a studio for around 30 years or so. During those 30 years, nearly every famous actor and actress you can think of passed through his door. Most didn’t make eye contact, much less speak. They were too busy or couldn’t be bothered. Two allegedly always not only spoke but asked his name, thanked him for his service, and then wished him the best when he retired: Tom Hanks and the late great John Candy.