British-American actor Liam Neeson has said that there is a “bit of a witch hunt happening” in Hollywood over allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
Asked about the snowballing series of claims against powerful men, he told Irish television late on Friday: “There is a bit of a witch hunt happening too. There’s some people, famous people, being suddenly accused of touching some girl’s knee or something and suddenly they’re being dropped from their programme or something.”
Neeson said that he is “on the fence” about allegations against fellow actor Dustin Hoffman.
“Because when you’re doing a play and you’re with your family – other actors and technicians – you do silly things,” he told RTE’s The Late Late Show.
“You do silly things and it becomes superstitious, and if you don’t do it every night you think it’s going to jinx the show.
“I think Dustin Hoffman was – I’m not saying I’ve done similar things like what he did … apparently he touched a girl’s breast and stuff – but it’s childhood stuff.”
Several women have publicly accused Hoffman of sexual misconduct, including two who said he assaulted them while filming 1987 movie Ishtar.
The 80-year-old double Oscar winner’s lawyer described the claims as “defamatory falsehoods”.
Neeson also questioned the firing of writer and long-time radio host Garrison Keillor over what his radio station called inappropriate behaviour with a co-worker.
However, Neeson, who was born in Northern Ireland but also has US citizenship, said he welcomed the general trend towards exposing harassment.
“There is a movement happening and it’s healthy and it’s across every industry,” he said.
He said that as a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, he has read “chilling” details about how female labourers were being treated on farms and ranches.
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