Today is the day when the word “empowering” officially lost any remaining meaning, crawled into a corner and died. In an interview with Hamptons Magazine (which we saw via Vanity Fair), Blake Lively said that working with Woody Allen was “very empowering.”
Lively, who is part of the ensemble of Allen’s 1930s-inspired film, Café Society, explained how thrilling it was to work with a man accused by his daughter of repeatedly molesting her throughout her childhood. “It’s really cool to work with a director who’s done so much, because he knows exactly what he wants,” Lively said. “The fact that he does one shot for an entire scene—[and] this could be a scene with eight people and one to two takes—it gives you a level of confidence because when he’s got it, he knows he’s got it.”
Though Allen, as Vanity Fair points out, has a reputation for barely speaking to speaking to actors on set, Lively said that his style was clearly encouraging and supportive:
“He also is really encouraging as to why he cast you, so he’ll say, ‘Say the dialogue that’s written and then you can improvise for a while.’ And his dialogue is so specific, and it’s speaking in a 1930s dialect and [with period] references, so it’s intimidating to think, Oh, let me just improvise there and hope that my words blend seamlessly alongside Woody Allen’s. Which they clearly wouldn’t and don’t. But he’s very empowering.”
In May, the day Café Society opened the Cannes Film Festival, Ronan Farrow published an essay in the Hollywood Reporter accusing the film industry of essentially protecting Allen’s reputation by glossing over his history of sexual abuse. “Actors, including some I admire greatly,” Farrow wrote, “continue to line up to star in his movies. ‘It’s not personal,’ one once told me.” Farrow added that it was, indeed, personal:
Personal is exactly what it is — for my sister, and for women everywhere with allegations of sexual assault that have never been vindicated by a conviction.
Farrow continued, calling out Lively and the rest of the cast of Café Society, by name:
Tonight, the Cannes Film Festival kicks off with a new Woody Allen film. There will be press conferences and a red-carpet walk by my father and his wife (my sister). He’ll have his stars at his side — Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively, Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg. They can trust that the press won’t ask them the tough questions. It’s not the time, it’s not the place, it’s just not done.
Vanity Fair did ask Lively about Farrow’s essay directly, but the actress refused to comment. Unsurprisingly, Hamptons Magazine followed the PR-approved script and did not follow up by asking Lively about working with an abuser. They did, however, ask her about her favorite bakery in the Hamptons.
Image via Getty.