John Oliver regrets that 'failed' Dustin Hoffman grilling

John Oliver has said he regrets getting into a heated argument with Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman.

Earlier this month, the Last Week Tonight host grilled Hoffman about the recent sexual harassment allegations made against him while the pair were taking part in a Q&A screening of Hoffman's 1997 film Wag the Dog. The quarrel won Oliver widespread praise, with many arguing it set an example for men everywhere when it comes to tackling allegations of inappropriate behaviour head-on.

But the British comedian has since had second thoughts about the usefulness of the exchange. Speaking on the UK's Russell Howard Hour before Christmas, Oliver said he doesn't think the verbal tiff resulted in anything productive.

"It wasn't ideal that it became such a big media story," he said. "Because then it became about my questions instead of his answers. My questions weren't particularly remarkable; his answers were kind of not great. So I think that was really the point of it.

"But it didn't go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad."

Host Russell Howard then interjected to say it was a success because the elephant in the room was addressed instead of ignored.

"I just wanted it to become more constructive, but it was clear early on that wasn't going to happen," Oliver replied. "I tried and failed."

Last month, Hoffman apologised to a former intern over a 30-year-old account of sexual harassment.

"I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation," Hoffman said at the time. "I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am."

A second accuser came forward soon after the story made headlines. Hollywood publication Variety later published allegations the 80-year-old exposed himself to a 16-year-old girl in the 1980s.

This story John Oliver regrets that 'failed' Dustin Hoffman grilling first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.