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Beverly theater apologizes after actor Richard Dreyfuss's offensive comments at 'Jaws' event - The Boston Globe

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What was supposed to be a fun, intimate event and "Jaws" screening in Beverly with Richard Dreyfuss took a turn this weekend, when the actor went on a "transphobic, misogynistic, homophobic, sexist rant," according to theatergoers.

Sarah Hogg and their partner, Jonah Hoffmann, were among those at The Cabot theater in Beverly for "An Evening With Richard Dreyfuss + Jaws Screening" on Saturday. It felt like the perfect way to celebrate Hoffmann's birthday — by watching his favorite film, and even participating in a special meet-and-greet with the actor beforehand, which cost about $300 per ticket.

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

According to interviews with attendees and postings about the event on social media, Dreyfuss quickly devolved into a hate-filled speech about women in film, the MeToo movement, and LGBTQ rights. The event left many in the audience feeling rattled after watching a beloved actor spew hateful remarks that prompted many to walk out, while others wished they had.

In a video from the event, Dreyfuss walked onto the stage to a Taylor Swift song while wearing a dress, which was then torn off prior to his talk by a few helpers. At first, Hogg said, Dreyfuss's misogynistic remarks, in which they recall him saying women were submissive and weak, sounded like they could be ironic, more of a commentary about how Hollywood has traditionally viewed women.

"Then it just got so quickly off the rails," Hogg said, recalling comments about hating the MeToo and LGBTQ movements.

When the remarks turned to transgender kids, Hogg and Hoffmann walked out, along with many others.

"He said that the parents of trans youth, allowing them to transition, was bad parenting and that someday those kids might change their minds," said Diane Wolf, of Salem, who was in the audience. She said Monday that the event is all she's been able to think about since Saturday.

In one comment that was captured on video, Dreyfuss said, "It's not okay because when the kid's 15, she's going to say, 'I'm an octopus.' " The crowd can be heard shouting at him.

Dreyfuss's representative did not respond to a request for a comment.

J. Casey Soward, executive director for The Cabot, said in an emailed statement that the theater is aware of — and shares serious concerns about — Dreyfuss's comments at the event, which he said do not "reflect the values of inclusivity and respect that we uphold as an organization."

He also expressed regret about failing to anticipate that the talk could go in that direction.

In recent years, Dreyfuss has made other, similar remarks. In an episode of PBS' Firing Line last year, he said the Film Academy's rules about inclusivity "make me want to vomit." He went on to say, "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."

Looking back, Hogg said it's upsetting to think about having shaken Dreyfuss's hand before the event and shared a nice conversation about how much "Jaws" meant to Hoffmann, only to have Dreyfuss then go on stage and say the things he did.

"I'm queer, I'm nonbinary. 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."

Sabrina Shankman can be reached at sabrina.shankman@globe.com. Follow her @shankman.

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