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Richard Dreyfuss’ ‘distressing and offensive’ rant has prompted a Massachusetts theater to apologize

Richard Dreyfuss looks up with a hand on his chin
A theater in Beverly, Mass., has apologized to the community and its patrons who were offended by remarks made by “Jaws” star Richard Dreyfuss at a recent screening of the film.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press)
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Richard Dreyfuss’ controversial remarks at a “Jaws” screening in Massachusetts on Saturday have prompted the venue that hosted the event to apologize about the Oscar winner’s “distressing and offensive” observations.

The “American Graffiti” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” star, who appeared onstage wearing a floral-patterned dress, allegedly made transphobic remarks and put down women, the #MeToo movement and inclusivity during the discussion, according to the Associated Press. Dreyfuss’ words at the film screening — billed as “An Evening With Richard Dreyfuss + ‘Jaws’ Screening” at the Cabot — resulted in some attendees walking out at the Beverly, Mass., theater.

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In a YouTube video that appears to be from the event, Dreyfuss dances onto the stage wearing a dress over his button-up shirt while Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” plays. Two stagehands appear and remove the dress as Dreyfuss mimics a striptease before putting on a blazer and taking his seat ahead of the screening. It’s unclear why the actor made such an entrance; representatives for Dreyfuss could not immediately be reached Monday by The Times.

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While footage of Dreyfuss’ full remarks has yet to emerge, many took to social media to air their grievances with the 76-year-old actor. NBC 10 Boston reported that audience members said their tickets cost about $300 apiece. The news station also reported that one attendee was disgusted when Dreyfuss delivered “a hate-filled speech that disparaged women in film, the #MeToo movement and LGBTQ rights.” The actor also took aim at his “Nuts” producer Barbra Streisand, whom he called both a “genius” and an “idiot,” and shared “bigoted opinions” on transgender kids and their parents, the Hollywood Reporter and Deadline said. (Last May, the “Goodbye Girl” Oscar winner said that the Academy Awards’ efforts to foster diversity “make me want to vomit.”)

“He was there to speak about Jaws and his acting career. Nobody needs to hear him spewing filthy hate speech about the LGBTQ+ and transgender communities. He’s more than welcome to his opinions, but hate speech has no place in a public forum,” one Facebook user wrote on the Cabot’s page.

“I’d be upset if I paid to see an event and thought he was doing a QandA about a beloved classic film and it turned into a rant about unrelated things - no matter what he was ranting about. Demented and entitled Boomer,” another added.

“We walked out of his interview tonight along with hundred of others because of his racist homophobic mysogynistic rant,” another Facebook user wrote.

“This was disgusting,” another attendee added, according to Deadline. “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.”

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Dreyfuss, who has long advocated for better civics education, also referenced his 2022 book, “One Thought Scares Me...,” which focuses on having “the right to make our opinions known” and explains the damaging effects on society that a deteriorating civics education could cause.

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Onstage, Dreyfuss said, “50 years ago, without telling anybody, they took civics out of the curriculum of all public schools in America, which means we have no knowledge of who the hell we are, and if we don’t get it back soon, we’re all gonna die,” according to reports. “Make sure that your kids are not the last generations of Americans, and you know exactly what I’m talking about.”

The Cabot, which is located near where Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster 1975 film was shot, apologized Tuesday for the actor’s remarks and for not anticipating the potentially inflammatory nature of his appearance. However, when contacted by The Times, the theater did not provide a full account of what Dreyfuss said at the event.

“We are aware of, and share serious concerns, following the recent event with Richard Dreyfuss prior to a screening of the film ‘Jaws’ at The Cabot,” the venue’s executive director J. Casey Soward said in a statement. “The views expressed by Mr. Dreyfuss do not reflect the values of inclusivity and respect that we uphold as an organization. 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. 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 continued.

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The Cabot said that it is “in active dialogue” with its patrons about their experience and is committed to learning from this event “how to better enact our mission of entertaining, educating, and inspiring our community.” The Cabot asked for privacy for its patrons.

The theater did not immediately respond to The Times’ requests for further comment.

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