Richard Dreyfuss’ bigoted rant at ‘Jaws’ event had attendees walking out

File - Richard Dreyfuss speaks onstage at the screening of 'American Graffiti' during the 2023 TCM Classic Film Festival on April 14, 2023 in Los Angeles. Presley Ann/Getty Images for TCM
Jaws were on the floor after Richard Dreyfuss allegedly went on a “transphobic, homophobic [and] misogynistic” rant during a special screening of 1975’s Jaws, causing some audience members to walk out of the theatre.

Attendees complained that the 76-year-old actor railed against Barbra Streisand, women in film and the #MeToo movement before taking aim at transgender youth.

The event, billed as “An Evening with Richard Dreyfuss + Jaws Screening,” took place at The Cabot theatre in Beverly, Mass. — about 200 kilometres north of the iconic movie’s setting in Martha’s Vineyard. Dreyfuss starred as oceanographer Matt Hooper in the film.

After the Saturday event, The Cabot sent an email to all of its patrons apologizing for the “distressing and offensive” remarks made by Dreyfuss that night.

“We deeply regret that Mr. Dreyfuss’s comments during the event were not in line with the values of inclusivity and respect that we uphold at The Cabot,” the theatre wrote. “At The Cabot, we are committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our community. The views expressed by Mr. Dreyfuss do not reflect our beliefs, and we do not endorse them in any way.”

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The email had some Cabot patrons who didn’t attend the event scratching their heads. What did Dreyfuss say to cause such a reaction?

The event was not filmed, but short clips of Dreyfuss’ entrance on stage and some of the comments he made were posted online. Audience members have also been sounding off on social media, with some slamming the actor for his remarks and others coming to his defence.

“We walked out of his interview tonight along with hundred (sic) of others because of his racist homophobic mysogynistic (sic) rant,” one attendee wrote on The Cabot’s Facebook page.

“I am absolutely horrified to learn about Dreyfuss’s disgusting behavior tonight. His transphobic, homophobic, misogynistic rhetoric should have been shut down,” a similar comment reads.

Another attendee said it was more like 20-25 people who walked out of the theatre, writing: “It’s a sad state of affairs where people are so emotional and sanctimonious that they can’t even stay in the same room with someone they disagree with.”

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Video shows that Dreyfuss took to the stage wearing a floral dress while dancing to Taylor Swift’s Love Story. Two stagehands then came out and unrobed him, revealing trousers and a dress shirt underneath.

The pre-screening Q&A between Dreyfuss and a moderator quickly “went off the rails,” according to one audience member: Dreyfuss was reportedly asked about his time working with Barbra Streisand on the 1987 film Nuts and spoke about how she “is a genius but he didn’t listen to her because she is a woman and women shouldn’t have that power.”

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(Streisand produced the movie, which starred both her and Dreyfuss.)

Another social media user claimed that Dreyfuss called Streisand “stubborn to work with because she is a woman who should be submissive.” The moderator then asked Dreyfuss about his views on the #MeToo movement, which he described as “the people who make me vomit.”

Multiple attendees allege Dreyfuss started railing against transgender youth, specifically mentioning “10-year-olds who want to change their gender.”

Audience member Diane Wolf told the Boston Globe that Dreyfuss said “the parents of trans youth, allowing them to transition, was bad parenting and that someday those kids might change their minds.”

Throughout the rant, the crowd booed and heckled, according to witnesses, and many theatregoers got up and left.

Sarah Hogg told the Boston Globe that they paid US$300 for a ticket to the screening, which included a special meet-and-greet with the actor before the event. Hogg ended up leaving before the screening of Jaws even started because of Dreyfuss’ comments.

“We were thrilled to see Richard Dreyfuss speak about his experience filming Jaws, what it was like, his time in Hollywood,” Hogg said. “That is not at all the experience that we got.”

Hogg added that it was upsetting that they had shaken Dreyfuss’ hand before the event and shared a nice conversation with him, only to then hear the actor say the things he did.

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“I’m queer, I’m non-binary. This is personal to me,” Hogg said. “It’s one of those moments where you feel like you’re having an out-of-body experience. It was horrifying.”

A short video of the end of Dreyfuss’ Q&A shows him plugging his 2022 book One Thought Scares Me, saying: “Fifty years ago, without telling anybody, they took civics out of the curriculum at public schools in America. We have no knowledge of who the hell we are and if we don’t get it back soon we’re all gonna die. We have to make sure that your kids are not the last generation of Americans, and you know exactly what I’m talking about.”

What remained of the crowd at that point cheered and clapped for the actor.

Dreyfuss is no stranger to controversy stemming from comments he has made. Last year, the actor condemned the Academy Awards’ announcement that entries for the Oscars will have to meet certain diversity and inclusion standards in an interview with PBS.

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“No one should be telling me as an artist that I have to give in to the latest, most current idea of what morality is,” he said.

Dreyfuss also praised Laurence Olivier’s portrayal of Othello in 1965, saying he “played a Black man brilliantly.”

He was also accused of groping fans in 2004. A TV writer who worked with him in the 1980s said he sexually harassed her for years and exposed himself in front of her on set.

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