‘We deeply regret the distress’: cinema apologises for Richard Dreyfuss comments at Jaws screening | Film

A cinema in Massachusetts has apologised to the audience at a special screening of Jaws and a Q&A with its star, Richard Dreyfuss, who reportedly made a number of sexist and transphobic comments.

Appearing at the Cabot theatre in Beverly, Massachusetts on 25 May, Dreyfuss took to the stage in a house dress to a background track of Taylor Swift’s Love Story, shaking his hips suggestively and brandishing his walking stick like a baseball bat.

He then reportedly took on targets including Barbra Streisand, the parents of trans teenagers and the Academy’s new inclusivity rules.

No transcript of the event has been released, but social media posts suggest that he called Streisand a “genius” but that he didn’t listen to her as she was “a woman, and woman shouldn’t have that power”.

Deadline reports that he also said “you shouldn’t be listening to some 10-year-old who says they want to be a boy instead of a girl”. The Boston Globe reports that he continued by saying that allowing such young people to transition “was bad parenting and that someday those kids might change their minds.”

However, a video from the end of the event indicates that many audience members did remain and were highly appreciative of the actor, who cautioned against a decline in critical thinking to considerable applause.

Writing on The Cabot’s Facebook page, one attender said: “We walked out of his interview tonight along with hundred [sic] of others because of his racist homophobic misogynistic rant.”

Said another: “This was disgusting. How could the Cabot not have vetted his act better. Apparently (I found out too late), he has a reputation for spewing this kind of racist, homophobic, misogynistic bullcrap.”

On 27 May, the venue issued a statement, saying they were “aware of, and share serious concerns, following the recent event with Richard Dreyfuss”.

They continued: “The views expressed by Mr Dreyfuss do not reflect the values of inclusivity and respect that we uphold as an organisation. We deeply regret the distress that this has caused to many of our patrons.

Dreyfuss in Jaws. Photograph: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock

“We regret that an event that was meant to be a conversation to celebrate an iconic movie instead became a platform for political views,” it continued. “We take full responsibility for the oversight in not anticipating the direction of the conversation and for the discomfort it caused to many patrons.”

The statement concluded: “We are in active dialogue with our patrons about their experience and are committed to learning from this event how to better enact our mission of entertaining, educating and inspiring our community.”

The Guardian has contacted representatives for Dreyfuss for comment.

In 2023, Dreyfuss took issue with the Academy over its new diversity and inclusion requirements for Oscar contention. He told PBS: “they make me vomit, because this is an art form”.

“It’s also a form of commerce,” he continued, “and it makes money. But it’s an art. And 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.”

The requirements, he went on to say, were “patronising”, and he cited Laurence Olivier’s 1965 Othello, saying: “He played a Black man brilliantly.”

“What are we risking?” Dreyfuss continued. “Are we really risking hurting people’s feelings? You can’t legislate that, and you have to let life be life. And I’m sorry, I don’t think that there is a minority or a majority in the country that has to be catered to like that.”

Dreyfuss was the then-youngest-ever performer to win the leading actor Oscar in 1978 for his role in The Goodbye Girl, and was nominated in the same category for 1995’s Mr Holland’s Opus.

He is best known for his roles in a number of seminal 1970s and 80s classics, including American Graffiti, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Stand By Me.

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