Richard Dreyfuss acknowledged behaving inappropriately toward a woman with whom he worked in the 1980s in a statement he provided to New York magazine's Vulture blog.
Writer Jessica Teich claimed in an interview with the publication that when she collaborated with the actor on a TV show, Dreyfuss created "a very hostile work environment where I felt sexualized, objectified, and unsafe."
She also alleged that at one point, Dreyfuss pulled out his penis and, she said, "sort of tried to draw me close to it," before she walked out.
Dreyfuss, who called Teich "a friend of 30 years," "emphatically" denied exposing himself to her, but did express remorse for other ways he acted at the time.
"I did flirt with her, and I remember trying to kiss Jessica as part of what I thought was a consensual seduction ritual that went on and on for many years. I am horrified and bewildered to discover that it wasn’t consensual. I didn’t get it," he stated. "It makes me reassess every relationship I have ever thought was playful and mutual."
Teich, 58, told the magazine that she decided to tell her story after Dreyfuss, now 70, spoke out in support of his son, Harry Dreyfuss, who has alleged that he was fondled by actor Kevin Spacey. Spacey has not responded to the allegation. The Oscar winner's reaction "bothered" her, she said.
“When I read about his support for his son, which I would never question, I remember thinking, 'But wait a minute, this guy harassed me for months,'” Teich said. “He was in a position of so much power over me, and I didn’t feel I could tell anyone about it. It just seemed so hypocritical.”
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A publicist for Dreyfuss did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the Oscar winner told Vulture that he regrets the way he behaved at that point in his life. Dreyfuss, who is perhaps best known for his roles in films including American Graffiti, Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, said that in the late 1970s he became "an a----- — the kind of performative masculine man my father had modeled for me to be."
"I lived by the motto, 'If you don’t flirt, you die.' And flirt I did. I flirted with all women, be they actresses, producers, or 80-year-old grandmothers. I even flirted with those who were out of bounds, like the wives of some of my best friends, which especially revolts me. I disrespected myself, and I disrespected them, and ignored my own ethics, which I regret more deeply than I can express," he stated. "During those years I was swept up in a world of celebrity and drugs — which are not excuses, just truths. Since then I have had to redefine what it means to be a man, and an ethical man. I think every man on Earth has or will have to grapple with this question. But I am not an assaulter."
In light of the numerous sex scandals that have rocked Hollywood over the past month or so, Dreyfuss concluded his statement by saying that he "awakening to the reality that how men have behaved toward women for eons is not OK."
"I am playing catch up. Maybe we all are," he stated. "I hope people can join me in honestly looking at our behavior and trying to make it right. We have to relearn every rule we thought we knew about how men and women interact, because after all getting together is the most fundamental human compulsion. And if we don’t succeed in that, what do we have? I hope this is the beginning of a larger conversation we can have as a culture.”