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Woody Allen opens up about young wife

In unusually candid comments, director says he was a ‘paternal’ figure to Soon-Yi Previn before beginning controversial relationship with her

Director and actor Woody Allen in Paris, August 27, 2013 (AP/Christophe Ena, File)
Director and actor Woody Allen in Paris, August 27, 2013 (AP/Christophe Ena, File)

Much has been said about Woody Allen’s personal life over the years, but very little of it has been by him. The 79-year-old director prefers to stay out of the limelight at all costs, notably never attending the Oscars, even when his films are nominated for awards.

Yet on Wednesday, NPR published an interview on its website in which Allen opened up about his private life perhaps more than he has in decades.

When asked about his relationship with his wife Soon-Yi Previn, which has garnered more than its fair share of controversy over the years, Allen described himself as a “paternal” figure in a quote that is sure to be dissected by his critics for years to come.

“I’m 35 years older, and somehow, through no fault of mine or hers, the dynamic worked,” Allen told film critic Sam Fragoso. “I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me, and I was happy to give her an enormous amount of decision-making just as a gift and let her take charge of so many things. She flourished. It was just a good-luck thing.”

Woody Allen with wife Soon-Yi Previn in 2012 (YouTube screen capture)
Woody Allen with wife Soon-Yi Previn in 2012 (YouTube screen capture)

Allen went on to explain that even he thought the relationship was “ridiculous” when it started.

“I started the relationship with her and I thought it would just be a fling, it wouldn’t be serious. But it had a life of its own. And I never thought it would be anything more. Then we started going together, then we started living together, and we were enjoying it. And the age difference didn’t seem to matter. It seemed to work in our favor, actually,” he said.

Allen’s use of the word “paternal” is especially ironic since Previn was the adopted daughter of his former girlfriend Mia Farrow. Furthermore, Allen has been accused of sexually abusing another one of Farrow’s adopted daughters, Dylan, when she was seven years old. He denies the allegation.

Fragoso asked Allen whether the Dylan Farrow controversy has affected the number of people who see his films — and Allen’s response was surprisingly confident.

“I would say no. I always had a small audience. People did not come in great abundance, and they still don’t, and I’ve maintained the same audience over the years. If the reviews are bad, they don’t come. If the reviews are good, they probably come,” he said.

The rest of the interview was full of interesting and amusing tidbits, like the fact that he doesn’t own a computer, has never taken a puff of marijuana in his life and ate dinner at the same restaurant on New York’s Upper East Side for “10 [to] 12 years.”

Sadly, however, at this point the legendary filmmaker’s quirks, like his films, are seen in the shadow of his controversies.

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