NEW YORK — When two Long Island friends went to see Richard Dreyfuss in the 2004 Broadway production of “Sly Fox,” they weren’t expecting such a close encounter with the Oscar winner.
But after the show, they were invited to visit the “Jaws” actor backstage, where he allegedly pawed at the women and “grabbed” one on her backside, they told the Daily News.
In a series of photos shared exclusively with The News, Dreyfuss is seen squeezing one of the women on her buttock, and then wrapping his arms around her waist so one hand is touching her breasts while the other is extending down toward her crotch.
“The first thing he did was give me a hug, and he stuck his hand almost in the crack of my butt. He didn’t even give me any warning,’ the woman, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Beth, said.
“Then he turned me around, and he grabbed me by the boob. And he grabbed right above my private area, lower than my midriff. Like he was tickling me. I was giggling, but not in a happy way. I was so nervous,” Beth, 48, recalled.
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“I was so uncomfortable. It was such a weird, awkward feeling.”
The second woman, Susan, said Dreyfuss ambushed her with a kiss on her cheek — another moment caught on camera.
“He kissed me without permission. I’m smiling in the photo, but it was a nervous smile. I didn’t know how to react. I was so surprised,” Susan, 52, said.
“I just remember it was creepy, weird and awkward. We were excited to go in there and meet him, and it wasn’t what we expected. It was a shock. I was surprised, I didn’t expect him to be that type of person. He was on both of us.”
Attempts to reach Dreyfuss directly and through his agent were not successful Monday.
Beth and Susan both recalled seeing the play in Manhattan and being approached by someone at the theater who offered to escort them backstage and introduce them to the show’s star.
“I’m not the type to get star-struck,” Beth said, recalling the moment she walked into Dreyfuss’ dressing room for the unexpected introduction.
“I remember he was sweaty and talking fast. I couldn’t understand why he was being so touchy with people he’d never met before. And he was saying really weird, awkward stuff. He told me I had nice lips. Susan was really grossed out,” she said.
Beth said Dreyfuss asked the women to stay and hang out with him, but they “made some excuse and left.”
“He acted like it was completely normal,” she recalled. “I just remember the whole time, I just wanted to get out of there. He didn’t seem to care one drop about us. He didn’t ask us anything about ourselves. We could have been anyone.”
Beth said she and Susan compared notes after the disturbing interaction and told other people as well.
“She told me Richard Dreyfuss was inappropriate with her — his hands were all over her. I just remember her showing me the pictures and telling me how Richard Dreyfuss was kind of pervy with her,” Beth’s friend, a TV producer, told The News. “I would say she was shocked by his behavior.”
The friend said Beth reported the incident to him within a couple months in 2004.
“You hear a lot about this type of behavior, but rarely do you see evidence of it,” he said of the photos.
Beth, an entrepreneur and mother of two, said she finally decided to step forward after the #metoo movement created a more hospitable environment for women to talk about predatory behavior by powerful men.
She was also upset when Dreyfuss denied exposing himself to writer Jessica Teich in 1987, a story that broke in November.
The “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” actor told New York Magazine’s blog Vulture that he recalled flirting with Teich over the years in exchanges he thought were consensual.
Teich, meanwhile, told Vulture that Dreyfuss hired her to help develop a script for an ABC show and harassed her with lewd comments. She said at one point, he invited her to his trailer on a film set in 1987 and exposed his genitals to her.
Dreyfuss’ agent Barry McPherson said his client did not expose himself to Teich.
Dreyfuss reportedly said he was “horrified and bewildered to discover” the flirting was not consensual.
Teich said she decided to break her silence after Dreyfuss spoke out on Twitter to support his son Harry in the wake of claims the actor Kevin Spacey groped Harry’s crotch when the younger Dreyfuss was 18.
Beth said she saw Dreyfuss’ denial of Teich’s claims and felt it was important to back her up.
“He said it didn’t happen, and that got me really mad. I think she’s telling the truth,” Beth told The News on Monday.
“A lot of times, the man just denies it, and the woman looks so foolish. To be honest, I’m a little scared myself, speaking up now. But I felt so badly for her, and I had an opportunity to back up what she’s saying. I’ve been alone in a room with him and know what he’s like,” she said.