The Woody Allen documentary has once again put the famous filmmaker’s molestation scandal under the spotlight.
With new testimony from Mia Farrow, Ronan Farrow, and Dylan Farrow — plus never-before-seen archive footage of Dylan at just seven years old making her accusations of abuse — Allen v Farrow promises to tip the scales even further against Woody in the court of public opinion.
Of course, that raises a big question: why has it taken so long for accusations of child molestation to stick??
The Annie Hall director’s films were loved, especially among critics and cinephiles, but was that really enough reason for people to automatically take his side over a young girl’s accusations?
The doc is called Allen v Farrow, but the defense is notably missing — as Woody refused to participate in the documentary. (He claims he was purposely given short notice so he couldn’t fight back against what he calls a “hatchet job.”) In fact, Allen has barely spoken about the allegations for the past three decades. However, when everything was still new, he actually did feel the need to defend himself.
In an extended interview on 60 Minutes, Woody went on national TV and explained his side.
So what did he say in his own defense at the time that convinced so many fans he was innocent of the charges? Let’s dive in and see…
A Total Non-Event
He began by giving a full denial — not even an attempt to suggest there was a misunderstanding — just straight calling BS:
“A gigantic industry has been built on a total non-event, and when I say total non-event, I mean total non-event. It wasn’t — it wasn’t as if, you know, I tickled my daughter or something and much has been exaggerated. I’m saying nothing at all. I mean, I went up and played with the kids, read them stories, did — did my usual things. We played out on the lawn and, you know, had a wonderful time with them, and out of this has grown lawyers and psychologists and district attorneys and private investigators and — I mean, I’m saying it’s a multimillion-dollar industry that has sprouted up over a total non-event.”
When asked straight up if it could have been a misunderstanding, Woody denied even that chance:
“There is no possibility. There is no possibility that anything remotely ever happened to Dylan or that I ever did anything to Dylan, and I’m saying not even in a cursory way.”
Allen is said to have come for a visit to Mia’s Connecticut home while his ex was away and touched his daughter inappropriately on the couch. The filmmaker points to the timing of this allegation as being suspect.
His affair with Mia’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn — which he has never denied — had just been found out. The two were going through an extremely antagonistic split, something Woody believes is good evidence against his alleged behavior with his daughter on the day in question:
“Well, be logical about this. I’m 57. Isn’t it illogical that I’m going to, at the height of a very bitter, acrimonious custody fight, drive up to Connecticut where nobody likes me in a house — I’m in a house full of enemies. I mean, Mia was so enraged at me and she had gotten all the kids to be angry at me, that I’m going to drive up there, and suddenly, on visitation, pick this moment in my life to become a child molester. It’s just — it’s just incredible. I could have — if I wanted to be a child molester, I had many opportunities in the past. I could have quietly made a custody settlement with Mia in some way and done it in the future. I mean — you know, it’s so insane.”
The major question one might naturally arrive at faced with Woody’s denial is of course… why would anyone make up such a thing? Well, that he lays at the doorstep of his ex, Mia Farrow, whom he believes was getting a twisted revenge on him for the affair with Soon-Yi. He told interviewer Steve Kroft, who asked that very question, he figured Dylan must have “been coached methodically to tell the story” by her mother:
“By Mia, yeah, because first of all, several weeks before it happened, Mia called me on the phone and said — in the course of an argumentative phone call, she said, ‘I have something very nasty planned for you.’ And I said, ‘What are you going to do, shoot me?’”
So he believes Mia would really make up a story of child molestation and convince Dylan through repetition that it’s what happened to her? Yep.
“And on many, many occasions, many occasions, over the phone and in person, Mia had said to me, ‘You took my daughter, and I’m going to take yours.’ She meant by it that I had formed a relationship with her 21-year-old daughter and she was going to get my daughter, who’s Dylan. I only have one daughter. That’s what she meant. She was going to seek her revenge that way.”
Could he really believe Mia would sink so low as to invent child molestation? Well, Woody contended she didn’t think she was making it up — the Dylan stuff specifically, yes, but not the general label. He told Kroft that his ex considered him “morally guilty” of child molestation from the first time she found out about Soon-Yi.
That at least is not hard to believe; many did and still do consider that transgression to be not just indicative of a larger pattern and more character evidence against him — but also essentially pedophilia in itself, especially if it’s true the affair began when she was still in high school as some have claimed.
But Allen believes Mia turned this righteous anger into a false narrative. He said she once posted a note on a door (which he showed to 60 Minutes) when he came to Dylan’s birthday party reading:
“Child molester at birthday party! Molded, then abused one sister; now focused on youngest sister. Family disgusted.”
‘This Is Insane’
Allen’s other defense was to point out how inconsistent Mia’s behavior was towards him surrounding the accusation.
For instance, he said, if there had been something wrong with the way he’d treated Dylan for years, as Mia now claimed, what she said on record about his parenting was the exact opposite. He pointed out:
“She wrote a glowing, glowing letter, or an affidavit, saying that I was just a loving and a caring and attentive father, and that I was–that my adopting Dylan would be great benefit to her. This was her sworn affidavit, you know… She wrote it in December of last year.”
That was the month before she found out about Soon-Yi. After that everything changed — well, not everything.
“What happened was crazy behavior that became incre- you know, terrible rage, death threats. Look, if this is not irrational to you — I mean, she accused me of child molestation on August 4th, right? And that I molested my daughter. You- you know, I molested my daughter and August 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th — you know, the week after, she’s fully saying, ‘When do we begin our new movie? I’m going for my costume fitting next week.’”
That film was 1993’s Manhattan Murder Mystery. Mia was meant to play his wife in the film, a role he had written for her.
“…I said, ‘What do you mean, the new movie?’ And she- and I- and she said, ‘Well, you know, I- I’m supposed to go in and see the costume designer. I’ve got to get my fitting, and I- we’re going to begin shooting in another five weeks.’ And I said, ‘Are you kidding? You’re accusing me of child molestation, and you think we’re going to just go on with the movie?’”
Allen’s point? If Mia really believed the molestation had happened, how could she possibly still want to work with him? And yet she fully expected to. Woody was shocked:
“I said that — you know, of course, ‘This is insane.’ I mean, I said — you know, I told my- my lawyer that, you know, they should call her and terminate the contract, and I went out and hired another actress to play the role.”
Mia was replaced with Woody’s other longtime collaborator Diane Keaton, and the movie became his first since 1980 not to co-star Farrow.
The director did say Mia’s behavior changed in other ways, that she suddenly found religion when she “was never religious for 60 seconds in all the years” he knew her. Oh, and that she threatened to kill him:
“She’s threatened my life many times. I mean, she called me and threatened my- she’s threatened to have me killed and to kill me. And to- and to stick my eyes out, to stick my eyes out, to blind me because she became obsessed with Greek tragedy and- and felt that this- that that would be a fitting, you know, vengeance.”
That part, of course, is consistent with a mother who believes her daughter has been molested. So did Mia believe it or not? Woody was undecided at the time on that score:
“She may believe it and want to believe it. She may believe it and have convinced herself of it; or she may not believe it. In the most cynical version of it, you know, Soon-Yi believes that she does not believe it. Soon-Yi thinks that it’s absolutely in character, that she has made it up quite calculatingly.”
What About Soon-Yi?
Speaking of Woody’s new paramour — with whom he has stayed together for 30 years now — how did he react to the notion that very affair was evidence he was a child molester?
First, he confirmed he didn’t think he’d done anything wrong in his relationship with Soon-Yi, saying only that it was “conceivable to me that it’s controversial.”
But as much as he would not deny his relationship with his ex’s adopted daughter (he even put it in those terms in the interview, saying, “I have turned up in an affair with another woman, and that other woman is her daughter”), he refused to allow for connecting of those dots. He said rather vehemently:
“…it was a totally separate thing. Wha- what I’m getting at here is there has been an attempt to link my relationship with Soon- Soon-Yi with charges of child molestation. They’re two completely different things. I have an adult relationship with Soon-Yi. Those people that feel- they want to feel that it’s- it’s questionable and not their taste or they — she’s too young for me or she’s Mia’s daughter, and — or whatever they want to think, I’ll take that heat. I–I’m responsible for that. I accept all the criticism that they want, you know, that — it’s my life and it’s Soon-Yi’s life and I- I accept that. That does not mean that I should be charged with child molestation.”
Allen also claimed he didn’t care about his reputation as he continued his relationship with Soon-Yi (“Yeah, I see her when she- when she gets off school.” Ick.). He said:
“I don’t think my rep- I can ever get my reputation back, but I don’t care about that. It’s irrelevant to me that if I walk down the street and someone thinks, ‘Hey, wasn’t that the guy that was once accused of child molestation? Well, he- he denied it, but we never really knew if it was so or not.’ You know, that doesn’t bother me. That- that- that’s the least of my concerns. I care — if you tell me that I- that I could see my children and be with them and all of that, and that- and that- that’s all that I care about…
It doesn’t matter to me if tomorrow you said to me, ‘No one is ever going to see your films again,’ or ‘You will never be hired again,’ this kind of thing. It doesn’t- you know, it- it would not matter to me.”
We wonder if he feels differently today. He obviously has been kept away from his kids. And recently he has practically been blacklisted as most actors refuse to work with him, and he’s had quite a bit of trouble getting his movies made and distributed.
But considering his lack of participation in the HBO doc, we’re guessing this interview may be the most he ever tries to defend himself publicly. What do YOU think?
You can watch the entire interview on the 60 Minutes YouTube channel (below):
[Image via HBO Max/CBS News/YouTube.]