For decades, Woody Allen has written, directed and starred in some of the most critically acclaimed films of our time. He has worked with a who’s who of Hollywood, been nominated for 24 Academy Awards, and become an iconic part of American cinema. Allen has also became inextricably associated over the years with many of his on-screen characters, who tend to be neurotic, narcissistic and nervous Jews.
But in the wake of a reckoning on sexual abuse shaking up Hollywood in recent months, the future of the actor and director’s career has been thrown into question. And the uncertainty isn’t based on new reports or fresh accusations.
Rather, production companies and actors alike are reexamining collaborating with Allen over accusations and facts that have been known for decades.
Amazon is reportedly considering shelving or skipping a theatrical release for Allen’s upcoming film, A Rainy Day in New York. According to reports in The New York Times and the New York Post this week, the company is grappling with how to deal with the film and its contractual obligations to Allen.
The renewed scrutiny is focused on an accusation from 1992 that Allen molested his then-seven-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow.
Allen denied the claim, and no charges were filed by a Connecticut state prosecutor, who said there was probable cause, but a trial was not in the young girl’s best interest.
The next year, Allen lost a bitter legal battle with his ex, actress Mia Farrow, for custody of Dylan and another two children. A team of investigators from Yale-New Haven Hospital presented its findings during the trial that Dylan was not abused.
The judge in the case said, however, that Allen was an unfit father and questioned the findings of the Yale report.
The facts of that 1992 incident remain bitterly disputed. But there are other facts that are clear as day, and certainly don’t help Allen’s reputation.
The filmmaker’s relationship with Farrow began in 1979. The pair had one biological child together, and Farrow adopted two others during their relationship, whom Allen later adopted as well. When Allen and Farrow began seeing each other, one of her other adopted children, Soo-Yi Previn – whom Allen did not also adopt – was around seven or eight years old. In 1992, Farrow discovered that Allen and Previn were having an affair, when she was about 19 or 20.
Allen and Previn have since married and been together for more than 20 years.
But none of this information is new, or unheard of, or unreported. The scrutiny of that child custody battle in the 1990s was intense and unremitting. But Allen went on to make dozens of films, win an Oscar, a Golden Globe and dozens of other honors.
SO WHAT has changed? As Hollywood takes a harsh, introspective gaze at its decades of tolerance for sexual abuse, the accusations against Allen have become harder to ignore.
In an interview with CBS News two weeks ago, Dylan, now a 32-year-old mom, recounted in graphic detail her memories of that day and what she termed her father’s sexual assault.
And in recent weeks and months, more and more Hollywood figures – including those who have defended him in the past – are denouncing Allen.
Rebecca Hall and Timothée Chalamet, who appear in Allen’s latest film, have said they regret taking part and will donate their salaries to Time’s Up, the Hollywood initiative against sexual harassment and assault. According to the New York Post’s Page Six site, the film, A Rainy Day in New York, includes scenes of a middle-aged-man sleeping with a 15-year-old girl.
Other actors who have worked with Allen in the past, including Colin Firth, Ellen Page and Mira Sorvino, have recently expressed regret at taking part in those projects.
Allen, however, is not without his defenders.
In recent days Diane Keaton, who has starred in many of his films, said, “Woody Allen is my friend and I continue to believe him.” Actor Alec Baldwin also spoke out in support of Allen, saying the renunciation of his work is “unfair and sad to me.”
For 20 years after the accusations against Allen surfaced, he has been lauded and idolized in Hollywood. Now, his upcoming film is in jeopardy, a Connecticut theater canceled a planned production of an Allen play, and according to Page Six, the director is having trouble casting his next film.
It might just be that – two decades later – Time’s Up.