In an interview with the New York Times published on Wednesday, actor Meryl Streep discussed the #MeToo movement, her own experiences with sexual harassment and her former co-star Dustin Hoffman, who is currently facing a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct.
Speaking alongside actor Tom Hanks to promote their new film The Post, Streep alluded to her own experiences with harassment, but only vaguely, saying, “I have experienced things, mostly when I was young and pretty. Nobody comes on to me [now]. But back in the day, when everybody was doing cocaine, there was a lot of [expletive] behavior that was inexcusable.”
She dismissed the interviewer’s request to get into specifics, telling the Times, “I mean, I was really beaten up, but I don’t want to ruin somebody’s mature life. I just don’t.”
She did, however, address questions about Hoffman, her co-star in the 1979 film Kramer vs. Kramer, which earned Streep her first Academy Award. Hoffman’s history of method acting and his relationship with Streep on the set of the drama have been widely reported. A biography of Streep, excerpted in Vanity Fair in 2016, detailed Hoffman’s behavior toward Streep, including one incident in which he slapped her across the face just before filming a scene.
He also, according to the biography, tried to provoke emotional reactions from Streep by “taunting” her about the then-recent death of her boyfriend, actor John Cazale. These reports of Hoffman’s on-set behavior can’t help but feel more sinister in light of recent allegations against him from several women, including a classmate of Hoffman’s daughter’s, who said the actor exposed himself to her in a hotel room in 1980, when she was 16, and another who described being groped and harassed by Hoffman on a film set when she was 17.
Reflecting on Hoffman’s behavior while speaking to the Times, Streep said of Kramer vs. Kramer, “This was my first movie, and it was my first take in my first movie, and he just slapped me. And you see it in the movie. It was overstepping.”
Streep also spoke briefly about what she knew — or didn’t know — about disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, whose alleged pattern of assaults and harassment were, according to multiple reports, somewhat of an open secret in Hollywood.
Actress and activist Rose McGowan, who came forward in the fall with allegations against Weinstein, has criticized Streep for what she called “hypocrisy,” saying in a tweet that Streep “happily worked” for Weinstein despite rumors of his behavior toward women. But Streep has maintained that she didn’t know about Weinstein’s alleged abuse, and has publicly expressed support for McGowan.
Streep reiterated that again to the Times, saying in the Wednesday interview, “Well, honestly for me in terms of Harvey, I really didn’t know ... I didn’t know that he was in any way abusing people. He never asked me to a hotel room. I don’t know how his life was conducted without people intimately knowing about it.”