Woody Allen: “Since I said that, if I die, I would like it to be in the middle of sleep, I hesitate to go to bed! »

16 October 2023 / Jerome Goulon

Woody Allen's new film Stroke of luck, has been in theaters since September 27. At 87 years old, the director does not want to hear about retirement, despite the controversies. Accused in 1997 by his ex-wife (Mia Farrow) of sexual abuse of his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow (but still cleared), he was the victim of new accusations in 2014, taken up by #MeToo in 2018, which earned him being dropped by Hollywood. Interview.

Interview: Following the affairs and controversies, part of Hollywood turned its back on you. Is it difficult to live with?
Woody Allen:  The possibility of never making a film again never worried me, and it still doesn't worry me. If I could no longer tour, I would still be delighted to write plays and books. I have more than enough money to stop everything. I don't have to make films.

You are known for being a hard worker. Have you ever been afraid of killing yourself at work?
In my job, work is an unreal world, and I feel uncomfortable in the real world. And then, you have to keep your hand in hand. It's like with my clarinet: I have to play it all the time to hope to keep my level... mediocre! 

Do you ever get some sleep?
Since I said that, as long as I die, I would like it to be in the middle of sleep, I hesitate to go to bed! 

Have you thought about ending your days in France?
It is already too late ! (Laughs) My problem is that in the United States, being Jewish, New Yorker, intellectual and leftist at the same time, that's four reasons to get lynched.

You must have met a lot of pseudo-intellectuals, right?
A lot ! I even lost a bit of time with the intellectuals! All these people who lie to themselves about their own status as artists by gargling with caricature ideas! We talk to them about Van Gogh and all they remember is his suffering, his debts and the fact that his works were rejected! While they, as soon as they publish a piece of crap that no one buys, they think they are the creators of the mold! 

When did you get your taste for culture?
Basically, I'm a guy with a fairly limited culture. But in high school, I discovered that it was necessary to have a minimum of it, because there were tons of gorgeous girls who were only interested in cultured guys. So, to be sure, I got started. However, at home, the trend was not towards culture. My parents never took me to the theater or to a museum.

Yet they were the ones who introduced you to jazz, right?
Not at all ! (Laughs) In fact, my mother kept telling me, “I'm going to end up getting a headache if you keep playing the flute.” » It was I who, on my own, at 15, by buying a radio, discovered New Orleans jazz.

And your father ?
My father was only interested in sports on TV. He didn't read much... And I was like him at the time, with a beer in my hand in front of the TV! I was a street kid, I played soccer and baseball, and I was pretty athletic. At school, I had a dismaying level. It's thanks to my glasses that I was taken for an intellectual! Fortunately, cinema saved my life!

And today, you are considered a genius of the seventh art!
That's nice, but I don't deserve any credit. As I once wrote: “Between genius and me, there is only one obstacle: me!” » If I succeeded in my films, it's because I failed most of my marriages! I had to flourish somewhere!

The art of seduction is omnipresent in your work. What is your relationship with seduction?
Painful reports! (Laughs)As a child, I was raised surrounded by my mother, my sister, my mother's seven sisters and my cousins! So I was very pampered.

You say that you have a difficult relationship with seduction, but that hasn't stopped you from going out with pretty women...
Because I focus everything on humor. I had more trouble with intellectually limited women. But I didn't really care. It's not with a brain that men like to sleep! 

You once declared that sex was your favorite instrument...
It's true. For me, frequent sex unleashes an extraordinary creative flow.

Do you have a type of woman?
Before Yes. When I was young, I was attracted to crazy, hysterical people. All my friends had scars on their wrists. But in the long run, it tired me.

In your first films, the heroes were moralists. Then little by little, they looked more and more like crooks. Has getting older made you change?
Moralizing has always been one of my weaknesses, especially in my films. But I tell myself that Bergman and Tolstoy have the same fault! As a result, I invent more and more shoddy, boring and pretentious moralists.

Speaking of morality, what would you like to say to people who say they no longer want to see your films because of the controversies?
People know absolutely no details of the cases. Everything they know, they have read in the tabloid press. And even if everything they read was accurate, they have no right to pass any judgment on my private life.

What do you think people think about all this?
I don't know. I think they think what they read in the tabloids.

And do you think that doesn't reflect reality?
They should think of me as a wonderful father who was accused, viciously and wrongly, of child molestation, who was exonerated, but who was forbidden from seeing his children. I found myself in a court where, one after the other, the witnesses, whether the nurse, the children's pediatricians and the psychiatrist appointed by the court, all declared: "This man did not commit of indecent assault on his daughter, he is a wonderful father. "Yet the public doesn't see that...

Did you feel injustice?
Nothing in the world can justify brutally, arbitrarily and forever taking a 7-year-old girl from her father. That she wakes up one morning, kisses him goodbye, and never sees him again. Even criminals can see their child in prison. What happened to me is incredible. 

How did you manage to escape from all that?
It wasn't that difficult. I avoid the news, I watch sports…. I had to carefully slalom but I got there. All this could not have happened without enormous organized complicity.

Whose complicity?
The complicity of those responsible for the investigation, journalists, and the judicial system. I don't want to call it a conspiracy, but the case benefited from the encouragement of these people. It was so ridiculous, stupid, that at that time, when the first scandal broke in the 1990s, I just said to myself: "All that matters is the children, no matter what happens , too bad for me and the damage it could do to my career. I'm just going to fight for my kids, no matter what it takes. » So, I did everything I could. I spent millions of my personal fortune. All the money that should have gone to my children was swallowed up by lawyers' fees. I fought day and night. I hired private investigators. I did my best. 

Even today, do you think that the age difference in a couple is poorly perceived by people?
I've been married twice to women three years my junior, and I've dated millions of women... Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow... And 99,99% of them were no younger than me. Assuming I dated 50 women, let's say 90, I don't know the exact number, it may be that from time to time one of them was young, but no more than normal for a guy who goes out with girls.

How Soon-Yi Previn (his current wife, Editor’s note.) Did she bear all the affairs?
She is stronger than me. She can walk around town in complete peace, no one bothers her. Sometimes a paparazzi photographs her, but it's not very common. She behaved very well during the whole affair. I got burned out because I'm old and famous.

Did you still draw any positives from all of this?
It allowed me to surpass myself. At one point, I had to go on television myself and talk about my private life, and even my sex life, even though I hate it. I used to think I would rather die than go through this. But I did it, I was able to do it, and I didn't find myself mute or blind. Our worst fears are much more terrible when we anticipate them than in reality.

It's true that we almost never see you on talk shows. For what ?
Talk shows are insurmountable for me. I am too shy. This is why I prefer to answer “paper” interviews because I like meeting people face to face…

What have you learned about yourself?
What I learned ? That I am stronger than I thought. 

And what have you learned from life?
I learned to be less afraid...