Woody Allen, a name permanently yoked with images of a saggy man molesting his adopted seven-year-old daughter in the attic, has thrown his rumpled hat into the Weinstein ring. On Sunday morning, the BBC published a brief interview in which Allen sent the message that, let’s not go nuts with the sexual assault charges here, ladies, which he hedged in words of sympathy:
“There’s no winners in that, it’s just very, very sad and tragic for those poor women that had to go through that...
“You also don’t want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself. That’s not right either...
“But sure, you hope that something like this could be transformed into a benefit for people rather than just a sad or tragic situation.”
The interview comes a day after Weinstein was voted out of the Motion Pictures Academy, but it’s not great timing, given that two more rape, not winking, allegations came out simultaneously against Weinstein. The remarks are more careful than his 2010 statement at Cannes that Roman Polanski has “faced the firing squad” for 33 years since pleading guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl:
“He’s an artist, he’s a nice person, he did something wrong and he paid for it. They are not happy unless he pays the rest of his life. They would be happy if they could execute him in a firing squad. Enough is enough.”
Allen claims ignorance of the more severe and supposedly widespread rumors about Weinstein.
“No one ever came to me or told me horror stories with any real seriousness,” he said. “And they wouldn’t, because you are not interested in it. You are interested in making your movie.”
The “focus-on-the-work” line is a familiar defense toed by Allen’s colleagues. Last year Adrien Brody, who’s worked with both Allen and Roman Polanski, said that “Of course it’s horrible what comes out sometimes, and people have done things in their lives that may be inexcusable, but it’s not something to focus on.” Recently Kate Winslet, who’s in Allen’s new film Wonder Wheel told the New York Times that, “Having thought it all through, you put it to one side and just work with the person. Woody Allen is an incredible director. So is Roman Polanski. I had an extraordinary working experience with both of those men, and that’s the truth.”
Why anybody should care about what Woody Allen has to say about this is also partly due to the fact that his estranged son Ronan Farrow published one of the two first damning reports on Harvey Weinstein. His New Yorker piece was the result of a ten-month investigation including audio evidence and 13 allegations of harassment and assault, including three of rape. Farrow has been particularly vocal about addressing rumors, specifically because of “rumors” that his father molested his sister Dylan, which he believes.
Allen’s new movie Wonder Wheel comes out December 1st.