In 1993, Woody Allen was publicly accused of sexually assaulting his daughter, Dylan Farrow, when she was seven. (At the time, a psychiatrist sided with Allen; a judge sided with Dylan, Mia, and Ronan Farrow; and a prosector said there was evidence to proceed with criminal charges but declined to file them to “spare Dylan.”)
Last month, Dylan wrote a piece for the LA Times questioning how actors who are purportedly all-in on #metoo could justify working with Allen. She specifically named Kate Winslet, who was quick to call out the “gross misconduct of one of our most important and well-regarded film producers” (that would be Harvey Weinstein) but said of Allen, “I don’t know anything about that family. As the actor in the film [Wonder Wheel, which is now playing but I know nothing about because suck it Woody Allen and also you haven’t actually made a good movie since Hannah and Her Sisters] you just have to step away and say, I don’t know anything, really, and whether any of it is true or false…Woody Allen is an incredible director.” Farrow named Blake Lively, who said of Weinstein, “It’s important that we don’t stand for this…[t]his is unacceptable,” but of Allen, whom she repeatedly defended during and after the making of Cafe Society in 2016, she said, “It’s very dangerous to factor in things you don’t know anything about.” And Farrow named Greta Gerwig, who called the revelations about Weinstein “heartbreaking” and “overdue,” but when asked directly about working with Allen on To Rome With Love in 2012, said “You know…I think I’m living in that space of fear of being worried about how I talk about it and what I say.” Of course you are.
Farrow had written an earlier piece for the New York Times in 2014, detailing her story and asking, “What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?”
In response, Johansson called the letter “irresponsible.” Blanchett gave a wishy-washy non-apology: “It’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family, and I hope they find some resolution and peace.” (Snort.) Louis CK said nothing — probably wise, given, you know. Emma Stone also said nothing. Baldwin, in his oft-deployed winsome manner, berated a fan on Twitter who suggested he apologize to Dylan: “What the f&@% is wrong w u that u think we all need to b commenting on this family’s personal struggle?” and barked at another fan,“This is a charge that was investigated aggressively and resulted in … nothing. What would it take for you to at least consider that [Allen] is telling the truth?”)
I could only find one actor (correct me if I’m wrong! Please!) who publicly made amends before #metoo became a crescendo. His was a still, small voice. The fact that he was way less famous or powerful than some of his then-silent colleagues speaks volumes. Behold Griffin Newman’s Twitter thread from October 2017, which starts here:
I need to get this off my chest:
– I worked on Woody Allen’s next movie.
– I believe he is guilty.
– I donated my entire salary to RAINN.
— Griffin Newman (@GriffLightning) October 14, 2017
Read the whole thing. It’s an excellent mea culpa. Names the offense, takes responsibility, doesn’t self-aggrandize, makes amends. Newman doesn’t use the words “I’m sorry,” but that’s OK; this is a public statement rather than a private apology. He might have come off as self-celebratory if he’d apologized to Dylan Farrow — after all, she wrote the NYT op-ed three years earlier, and he still took the role. But he owns his ambivalence and waffling in a meaningful, honest way, despite not saying the words to her explicitly. (Hollywood: Hire Griffin Newman.)
In November, Ellen Page wrote on Facebook: “I did a Woody Allen movie and it is the biggest regret of my career. I am ashamed I did this. I had yet to find my voice and was not who I am now and felt pressured, because ‘of course you have to say yes to this Woody Allen film.’ Ultimately, however, it is my choice what films I decide to do and I made the wrong choice. I made an awful mistake.” (The film in question was 2012’s To Rome With Love, which also starred Roberto Benigni, Alison Pill, Judy Davis, and Giancarlo Esposito, as well as Gerwin and Baldwin, FYI.)
Then came Dylan Farrow’s second op-ed. And more actors began to speak out.
Mira Sorvino tweeted an apology to Farrow, and wrote more lengthy mea culpa for The Huffington Post (an outlet I do not link to for ethical reasons, though I’m hopeful that new editor Lydia Polgreen will let me reverse this longtime policy) for working with him on Mighty Aphrodite in 1995: “I am so sorry, Dylan. I cannot begin to imagine how you have felt, all these years as you watched someone you called out as having hurt you as a child, a vulnerable little girl in his care, be lauded again and again, including by me and countless others in Hollywood who praised him and ignored you.” This is a good apology.
Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Hall, who star in Allen’s forthcoming A Rainy Day in New York, had this to say:
The day after the Weinstein accusation broke in full force I was shooting a day of work on Woody Allen’s latest movie in New York. I couldn’t have imagined somewhere stranger to be that day. When asked to do so, some seven months ago, I quickly said yes. He gave me one of my first significant roles in film for which I have always been grateful, it was one day in my hometown – easy. I have, however subsequently realized there is nothing easy about any of this. In the weeks following I have thought very deeply about this decision, and remain conflicted and saddened. After reading and re-reading Dylan Farrow’s statements of a few days ago and going back and reading the older ones – I see, not only how complicated this matter is, but that my actions have made another woman feel silenced and dismissed. That is not something that sits easily with me in the current or indeed any moment, and I am profoundly sorry. I regret this decision and wouldn’t make the same one today. It’s a small gesture and not one intended as close to compensation but I’ve donated my wage to @timesup. I’ve also signed up, will continue to donate, and look forward to working with and being part of this positive movement towards change not just in Hollywood but hopefully everywhere. #timesup
Both good statements. And good for them, donating their salaries like Griffin Newman. (One must assume theirs are larger.)
The upcoming film reportedly involves the perennial Stammering Yet Handsome Allen Stand-In (Jude Law, in this case) who has a Perhaps-Untoward-Yet-Endearing interest in very young women. Allen’s obsessions have never been subtle, and like Louis CK, he seems to enjoy publicly wallowing in his own discomfort about his skanky desires in a kind of narcissistic performance art. Artistic handwringing about your real-life predatory behavior doesn’t make the behavior OK.
I’d love to see all the non-starving actors in A Rainy Day in New York apologize and donate their salaries to RAINN or the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund: That would be Elle Fanning, Jude Law, Liev Schreiber, Diego Luna, and Cherry Jones. I have sympathy for the less established young female actresses in the film — they’re in a difficult position — but would still love for them to speak out. (Y’all can keep your salaries. Make whatever donation you can afford to whatever women’s rights cause you support.)
Gerwig, for her part, has stopped hemming and hawing: “If I had known then what I know now, I would not have acted in the film,” she told the NYT. “I have not worked for him again, and I will not work for him again. Dylan Farrow’s two different pieces made me realize that I increased another woman’s pain, and I was heartbroken by that realization. I grew up on his movies, and they have informed me as an artist, and I cannot change that fact now, but I can make different decisions moving forward.” In this case, an apology to Farrow herself is warranted, since only weeks earlier she was wriggling away from this question like a trout on a line. Maybe Gerwin will apologize to Farrow privately.
And now, let us look at the non-Baldwin non-apologizers.
Diane Keaton has been unwavering in her support of Allen. After being called out in Dylan Farrow’s 2014 op-ed, she told a Guardian reporter: “I didn’t know her. It’s not a bad accusation. I was never friends with Mia. I was friendly. Sort of like I’m friendly with you. I like you, I like the way you are. I like the way she is, too. She’s very charming. But I never knew her as a friend…I believe my friend.”
You know what? Before you get huffy? THIS IS FINE. Don’t apologize if you’re not sorry. A bad, insincere, ass-covering apology is worse than no apology. Diane believes her friend. She did not speak up against Farrow until asked directly (unlike Lena Dunham, who bull-in-a-china-shops her way onto the offensive, unprovoked, then backs off). There is nothing else to say. Diane and Alec should go have a “We Heart Woody” party with Wallace Shawn. (“I’ve found [Allen] to be not merely thoughtful, serious and honest, but extraordinary and even inspiring in his thoughtfulness, seriousness and honesty,” Shawn told The Guardian in 2014. “Of the people I’ve known, he’s one of those I’ve respected most. And for that reason, I personally would have to say that it would take overwhelming evidence to convince me that he had sexually abused a child, just as it would take overwhelming evidence to convince me that Desmond Tutu, Franklin D. Roosevelt or Doris Lessing had sexually abused a child.”)
And then there’s Selena Gomez. She went after a role in A Rainy Day in New York with a vengeance, auditioning five times. When a fan suggested to Gomez’s mom, Mandy Teefy, that she make her daughter write an apology letter for working with Allen, Teefy replied, “Sorry, No one can make Selena do anything she doesn’t want to. I had a long talk with her about not working with him and it didn’t click.” (My teenager informs me that Selena’s mom also urged her daughter not to get back together with serial bad-apologizer Justin Bieber. CHILDREN WON’T LISTEN.) When asked in November about her decision to work with Allen, Gomez told Billboard, [The Harvey Weinstein allegations] actually happened right after I had started [on the movie]…I stepped back and thought, ‘Wow, the universe works in interesting ways.'” I am sorry. I do not know what this means. She added, “I’m fortunate enough not to have experienced some of the traumatic things that other women have had to go through. I’ve known people in my family who’ve gone through those things. I try to let people come to me and open up, to make a safe environment for them to do so.” (Such people may doubt the safety of her environment after her failure to believe Dylan Farrow, but who knows.) HOWEVER. Us Weekly reported yesterday that Gomez donated more than the amount of her salary for the Woody Allen movie to TIME’S UP. Of course, the only way Us Weekly would get that info is if Gomez wanted them to have it. Which is having one’s cake and eating it too.
Kudos for Gomez for not apologizing when she thinks she has nothing to apologize for, but how amazing would it have been for her to go further and say, “Look, I’m ambitious and I want to be taken seriously as an actress, and I refuse to say I’m sorry for that. Disney starlet baggage is heavy. Some of the greatest actors in modern history have worked with Woody Allen, and I want my name on that list. That’s more important to me than climbing on a bandwagon. I support the causes I care about in my own way, and I believe my personal and professional lives can and should be separate. You guys mocked me for doing teenybopper TV and obsess over who I’m dating; how can you criticize me for wanting an opportunity to do my best work in a literate, non-special-effects-driven, non-musical movie? I fought too hard for this role and am too grateful to Woody Allen to turn on him now. Also, as my mom says, I tend to dig in my heels, which is my best and worst quality.” People would be mad! But she’d be telling her truth.
Finally finally: A word to the actors who’ve worked with Allen who’ve remained silent and who I for one expected better from: Meryl Streep, Kristen Stewart, Justin Timberlake, Steve Carell, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, and Hugh Jackman. To you all: Don’t wear ribbons and pins and make dramatic hushèd-voiced or full-throated statements of condemnation of whoever the next guy is who gets caught, unless you’re gonna apologize for working with Woody. Giving money behind the scenes is very nice. Do it. But don’t speak.