In a new interview with NPR in anticipation of his 3,000th film about a young woman falling for an old man, Woody Allen talked about why his alleged sexual abuse of his daughter hasn’t affected his movies and the genesis of his marriage to Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his ex-partner* Mia Farrow, who first met Allen when she was 10.
The discussion about Previn—who married Allen when she was 27—was prompted by the interviewer, film critic Sam Fragoso, asking the director how he views the idea that “love fades,” as is famously stated in his film Annie Hall, in light of his 18-year marriage to Previn. In his response, Allen notes that their relationship worked because they both liked that he was “paternal,” which is... a weird thing to say about a romantic relationship between stepfather and stepdaughter.
I lucked out in my last relationship. I’ve been married now for 20 years and it’s been good. I think that was probably the odd factor that I’m so much older than the girl I married. I’m 35 years older, and somehow, through no fault of mine or hers, the dynamic worked. I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me, and I was happy to give her an enormous amount of decision making just as a gift and let her take charge of so many things. She flourished. It was just a good luck thing.
Fragoso then asks Allen to walk him through the beginning of his relationship with Previn, to which Allen notes that he had initially planned to just fuck his adopted stepdaughter for a minute before moving on.
I started the relationship with her and I thought it would just be a fling. It wouldn’t be serious, but it had a life of its own. And I never thought it would be anything more. Then we started going together, then we started living together, and we were enjoying it. And the age difference didn’t seem to matter. It seemed to work in our favor actually.
Next, Fragoso asks Allen if he thinks his public baggage—his marriage to Soon-Yi, Dylan Farrow’s story of abuse—has altered the size of his fanbase, or the way in which his viewers watch his movies. He says: no!
The separation between church and state, artists and their personal lives — do you think the allegations [that you sexually abused your adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow,] have affected how people approach your movies?
I would say no. I always had a small audience. People did not come in great abundance and they still don’t, and I’ve maintained the same audience over the years. If the reviews are bad, they don’t come. If the reviews are good, they probably come.
You really don’t believe they carry in that external baggage into the theater?
Not for a second. It has no meaning in the way I make movies, too. I never see any evidence of anything in my private life resonating in film. If I come out with a film people want to see they flock to see it, which means they see it to degree of Manhattanor Annie Hall or Midnight in Paris. That’s my outer limits. If I come out with a film they don’t want to see, they don’t come.
[image via Getty]