British-American actor Liam Neeson has said 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 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 he was "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 by inserting his fingers inside them.
The 80-year-old double Oscar winner's lawyer described the claims as "defamatory falsehoods".
Last year, actress Kathryn Rossetter accused Hoffman of groping her each night before a particular scene when she was appearing with him in a 1983 Broadway production of Death of a Salesman ― and later after filming the 1985 television adaptation.
“Along with the nightly sexual harassment, he eroded my confidence, my dignity,” she wrote in a December guest column in The Hollywood Reporter. “He humiliated and demeaned me. He robbed me of my joy in the experience and he left dirty fingerprints on my soul.”
In November, another woman said Hoffman had sexually harassed her when she was a 17-year-old intern working on the TV adaptation of Death of a Salesman. Hoffman said in response to her allegation that he felt “terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation.”
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.
Keillor, a former host of A Prairie Home Companion, was fired by Minnesota Public Radio for inappropriate behavior. Keillor has claimed he was called out for simply patting a woman on the back to console her. His hand touched bare skin, he said, and he apologized.
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.
The actor’s comments drew criticism on social media:
One commentor pointed out that many of the men accused were subjected to far lighter consequences for their actions, if they face consequences at all.
Writer and political commentator Keith Olbermann made a very good point. Neeson's retelling of Garrison Keillor's story was only acknowledging the perspective of Keillor.
According to the Huffington Post, Neeson had weighed in earlier this week on another issue concerning women: the gender pay gap. During an interview about his latest film, The Commuter, he called the pay disparity between men and women “fucking disgraceful.” He said men need to step up and help fix the problem.
But when asked if he would take a pay cut so that an actress could be paid more, Neeson responded, “Pay cut? No, no, no, no, no. That’s going too far.”
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