Richard Dreyfuss sparks outrage with wild Q&A at a Jaws screening

Richard Dreyfuss sparked outrage by going off an unexpected rant during an appearance at a Jaws screening last weekend

This past weekend, The Cabot theater in Beverly, Massachusetts hosted an event that was billed as An Evening With Richard Dreyfuss + Jaws Screening – but attendees did not expect what they got from legendary actor Richard Dreyfuss when he took the stage. Most of them probably expected the moderator to lead Dreyfuss on an overview of his amazing career, allowing him to discuss not only Jaws (and set the record straight about whether or not he was a jerk on set) but also films like American Graffiti, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Stand by Me, Stakeout, What About Bob?, or the two that earned him recognition from the Academy: Mr. Holland’s Opus (he earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the film) and The Goodbye Girl (he won the Best Actor Oscar for that one). Instead, Dreyfuss used the event as an opportunity to go on a free-form rant that led to a lot of audience members to walking out on him, shocked and offended by the things he was saying.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Dreyfuss’s rant was partly a continuation of what he had to say last year when he bashed the Academy’s inclusion rules. Things got off to a confusing start when Dreyfuss took the stage in a dress, dancing to a Taylor Swift song. After being helped out of his dress, he sat down for the interview, and after a weird story about Barbra Streisand (his co-star from the movie Nuts), many called sexist (apparently saying women should have no power and that Nuts “sucked” because Streisand is too “passive”) he began giving his controversial opinions on trans issues, diversity, and more. The comments, which many said came out of nowhere given that he was there to talk abut Jaws, were met with hostility. To note, no full recordings of the evening have surfaced (yet) so we’re really going by the comments made on Twitter from those who were there.

Dreyfuss ended the Q&A by talking about his book One Thought Scares MeWe Teach Our Children What We Wish Them to Know; We Don’t Teach Our Children What We Don’t Wish Them to Know, saying, “It’s about the fact that 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 going to die. Make sure your kids are not the last generation of Americans. And you know exactly what I’m talking about.

For their part, The Cabot has issued an apology to those in attendance: “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 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. 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 Hollywood Reporter notes that Dreyfuss was criticized for “sexist and mean” comments he made at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire the night before his appearance at The Cabot. Again, no one can say exactly what he said, because at the moment no recordings have been released, so the information is second hand.

Ben Dreyfuss, one of Richard Dreyfuss’s sons, took to social media to say: “Re: my father: well, now you know why I refused to give him the password to his own twitter account for a decade lol. My dad and I disagree about lots of stuff. But it’s a free country. People are allowed to have different opinions about stuff.

Richard Dreyfuss, who is coming up on his 77th birthday, has always had a reputation for being… well, some might say a jerk, while others might say ornery. Given his age and how far off track he’s taking his talks at this movie screenings, we have to wonder if he’s experiencing some health issues now as well.

What do you think of Richard Dreyfuss going off on an unexpected (and, to many, offensive) rant during his appearance at The Cabot’s Jaws screening? Share your thoughts on this one by leaving a comment below.

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