On Sunday evening, New York magazine published an interview (of sorts) with Soon-Yi Previn, in which, among other things, she defended husband Woody Allen against claims he abused Dylan Farrow and claimed Mia Farrow repeatedly abused and neglected her adopted children.
The lengthy profile details a number of abuses Previn recalls enduring in Farrow’s household. Previn, for instance, claims Farrow forced her children to essentially run the home when they lived in an apartment on Central Park West:
Soon-Yi also says she and her adopted sisters were used as “domestics,” while Farrow kept busy rearranging the furniture, ordering from catalogues, working on her scrapbooks, and talking to her friends on the phone.
“We did the grocery shopping, starting in third grade, for the entire family,” Soon-Yi says. “Lark and I wrote the list of everything that we needed for the house, we paid for it, we unpacked it. When I went to Ethical Culture, I had to pick up my siblings … In Connecticut, Lark cooked, and we cleaned the bathrooms, cleared the dishes, washed up, and did the sweeping. When Woody started coming up to Connecticut, I ironed Mia’s sheets.”
Previn also claims Farrow repeatedly called her “stupid” and “moronic”; would occasionally hit her with a hairbrush and once threw a porcelain rabbit at her; and generally neglected her, leaving her with no pleasant memories of growing up. “I wish she had taught me how to put on makeup,” Previn told the magazine. “I don’t know how to do any of that stuff. Mia never taught me how to use a tampon, and my babysitter got me my first bra.”
The piece also details Previn’s relationship with Allen, who she met when she was 10 years old. Though Previn claims she hated Allen initially, when she was in high school they began attending basketball games together, allegedly per Farrow’s insistence. The two began an affair sometime during her freshman year of college:
Both of them are vague on how and when their friendship turned sexual — “It was 25 years ago,” she says — beyond the fact that it was a gradual process. “I think Woody went after me because at that first basketball game I turned out to be more interesting and amusing than he thought I’d be,” Soon-Yi offers. “Mia was always pounding into him what a loser I was.”
At one point, Soon-Yi sends me an email addressing the inception of their affair: “We talked quite a bit,” she writes, “and to the best of my memory I came in from college on some holiday and he showed me a Bergman movie, which I believe was The Seventh Seal, but I’m not positive. We chatted about it, and I must have been impressive because he kissed me and I think that started it. We were like two magnets, very attracted to each other.”
The abuse Previn details is incredibly disturbing. But it is noteworthy that the profile was written by Daphne Merkin, a longtime friend and fan of Allen’s. She is also the author of a January 2018 New York Times op-ed that argued the #MeToo movement posed a return “to a victimology paradigm for young women.” That same skepticism toward #MeToo is evident in the New York magazine piece, which asserts Allen is himself a victim of the #MeToo movement.
Both Previn and Allen allege that Farrow fabricated the 1992 claim that Allen molested Dylan Farrow (who was seven at the time) as a way to get back at Allen for having an affair with Previn. “I was never interested in writing a Mommie Dearest, getting even with Mia—none of that,” Previn said. “But what’s happened to Woody is so upsetting, so unjust. [Mia] has taken advantage of the #MeToo movement and paraded Dylan as a victim. And a whole new generation is hearing about it when they shouldn’t.” Allen, who appears to be with Previn for some of her interview, calls himself a “pariah,” though the interview concludes with a description of the couple’s packed social schedule (“She fills the social calendar for six weeks in advance,” Allen tells Merkin).
Merkin, whose website notes that “her first fan letter was from Woody Allen,” discloses her friendship with Allen early on in the profile, but it is unsettling (to say the least) that the magazine permitted this to be published, considering their relationship. Shortly after the interview was published, Dylan Farrow released a statement decrying the piece’s claims, and pointing out the connection between Merkin and Allen. “The idea of letting a friend of an alleged predator write a one-sided piece attacking the credibility of his victim is disgusting,” the statement says. You can read the whole thing below:
Ronan Farrow also released a statement criticizing New York magazine for publishing the piece, which he described as a “hit job”:
Jezebel contacted New York magazine for comment and will update if we hear back.
Update 9/16: A New York magazine spokesperson provided Jezebel with the following statement:
This is a story about Soon-Yi Previn, and puts forward her perspective on what happened in her family. We believe she is entitled to be heard. Daphne Merkin’s relationship to Woody Allen is disclosed and is a part of the story, as is Soon-Yi’s reason for speaking out now. We hope people will read it for themselves.