Theatre apologises after Jaws star's 'racist and homophobic rant'

By John Mercury May 29, 2024

A theatre in the US has apologised after actor Richard Dreyfuss was accused of making offensive remarks during a question-and-answer session before a screening of Jaws, the movie that made him a massive star.

Dreyfuss appeared at the Cabot Theatre in the Massachusetts town of Beverly on Saturday.

Casey Soward, the theatre’s executive director, said in a statement that Dreyfuss’s remarks – which allegedly included comments about Barbra Streisand, the transgender community and women in film – used words that “do not reflect the values of inclusivity and respect that we uphold as an organisation”.

He added: “We deeply regret the distress that this has caused to many of our patrons. We regret that an event that was meant to be a conversation to celebrate an iconic movie instead became a platform for political views.”

Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws. Pic: Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock
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Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws. Pic: Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

The venue, he said, shares the “serious concerns” of attendees following the event.

Lisa Howe said on the theatre’s Facebook page: “We walked out of his interview tonight along with hundreds of others because of his racist homophobic misogynistic rant.”

Another quoted by Sky’s US partner NBC News, summed up the event as “an evening of misogyny and homophobia with Richard Dreyfuss”.

But others argued “there was nothing wrong with what he said” – with one theatregoer declaring he had a “newfound respect” for the actor.

Video posted on YouTube showed Dreyfuss appearing onstage in a blue, floral-patterned breakaway dress that was removed by stagehands to reveal him in trousers, a dress shirt and a jacket and using a cane.

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Reuters file pic
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Reuters file pic

Richard Dreyfuss arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Murder at Yellowstone City" on Thursday June 23, 2022, at Harmony Gold Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
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Richard Dreyfuss. AP file pic

Last year, Dreyfuss – who won the best actor Oscar for 1977’s The Goodbye Girl – criticised the Academy’s announcement that entries will have to meet certain diversity and inclusion standards.

The 76-year-old said: “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.”

Dreyfuss first made his name in the 1973 film American Graffiti, but his portrayal of a marine biologist in Jaws, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster, made him a Hollywood A-lister.

Sky News has asked the actor’s non-profit campaigning organisation, The Dreyfuss Initiative, for comment.

Dreyfuss has used some of the credit he has earned on screen to decry the state of education and politics in the US and opine “in favour of privacy, freedom of speech, democracy, and individual accountability”, according to his initiative’s website.

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