Wonder Wheel

25 years ago, Woody Allen sexually assaulted his 7 year old adoptive daughter, Dylan. “Allegedly.” He has continued to make movies and has continued to be rewarded for them while his young victim has grown up in a world that protected bullies and made excuses for monsters.

Not anymore. For too long we have separated art and artist – but at whose expense?

Last year Allen released Wonder Wheel, starring Kate Winslet and Justin Timberlake, just as the #metoo movement was gaining ground. For the first time, actors were being put on the spot, forced to justify their work with him (and others, to be sure), and to actually be accountable for making a career choice over a moral stand. Some of his past collaborators were quick to jump ship:

“I did a Woody Allen movie and it is the biggest regret of my career.” – Ellen Page

“I wouldn’t work with him again.” – Colin Firth

“[It] made me realize that I increased another woman’s pain, and I was heartbroken by that realization.” – Greta Gerwig

Kate Winslet had some early Oscar buzz for her role in Wonder Wheel, but seemed to sink those chances by refusing to condemn Allen in the months leading up to its release. Now, obviously it’s a tricky situation when this is your work and you’ve signed a contract and you have some obligations. But also she’s a millionaire with a shelf full of awards who could probably spare a little of both to stand up for her fellow woman. And, you know, do the right thing.

Griffin Newman, who is a more modestly paid actor from Allen’s upcoming film, A Rainy Day in New York, wrestled with his conscience and decided to donate his salary to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. That prompted some of his more famous costars, Rebecca Hall and Timothee Chalamet, to do so also. Hall wrote “I see [now] 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.” She donated her salary to Times Up, the legal defense fund to support victims of workplace sexual harassment. Chalamet has said “I don’t want to profit from my work on the film. I want to be worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with the brave artists who are fighting for all people to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

f50690e00877dc00ee5218bfa40af334--woody-allen-hollywood-actressesMeanwhile, Justin Timberlake got some deserved flak for daring to wear a Times Up pin but refusing to so much as comment on his willingness to work with Allen. Both Selena Gomez and Elle Fanning have been unapologetic about working with him on A Rainy Day, a troubling trend for young women. Jude Law and Liev Schreiber have also remained mum. Scarlett Johansson, who has positioned herself at the forefront of the Times Up movement and has publicly criticized James Franco for his creepy sexual advances, has failed to comment on Allen’s though she’s worked with him repeatedly. And Alec Baldwin has of course been stupid enough to support him – I suppose abusive men have to stick together.

Will Woody Allen continue to work in Hollywood? Who knows – he’s actually mostly been working for Amazon lately, and that’s a questionable future since he was brought on board by – guess who! – Roy Price, the guy who has since quit amid sexual harassment allegations. Sigh. I guess the better question is Who cares? He can continue to write and produce, but it’s going to be a lot harder to secure financing without big-name stars, and it’s going to be an awful lot harder for a big-name star to sign on without backlash. And in the meantime, his movies are nothing if not a good excuse to talk about a movement that’s been a long time coming and to thank the brave people like Dylan Farrow for speaking up and reminding us all what’s important.

 

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17 thoughts on “Wonder Wheel

  1. Carrie Rubin

    Great piece, Jay. I stopped watching his movies years ago, because I got tired of seeing him pair himself with young actresses. Then I continued to not watch them because of the marrying Farrow’s adopted daughter thing. And now with the assault allegations, I’ll continue to avoid them. (Well, I did see Midnight in Paris at my mom’s request.) Good for the actors who are separating from him and donating money earned from his films.

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  2. Birgit

    I might see some of his more famous films like Midnight in Paris..which, I think is the one with Owen Wilson?? Sorry but it is my curiosity. That being said, his films always dealt with his angst with women and many were young like Muriel Hemingway. When he decided to get together with his step daughter whom He knew since she was 12, I think, I just thought that was beyond creepy. As for Hollywood, hypocrisy always reigns as well as damage control and they will not talk about the women who were willing to be abused to get ahead because, unfortunately, there are women who do this too which makes it worse for all the other women..and men.

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  3. Micki Allen

    I still contend I appreciate Allen’s genius. If I ruled out writers, actors, directors, et al. because they’re disgusting assholes, I’d never read or watch movies again. Just my two cents.

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  4. 2loud2oldmusic

    I couldn’t tell you the last Allen film I have seen. Maybe 20+ years ago. Not a fan and never have been and once those allegations came out years and years ago, it made me want to watch him even less. I hope he never makes another movie again.

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  5. ninvoid99

    The last film of his I saw was Irrational Man which I liked. I’m one of those who remains unsure of what is going on. I recalled Allen admitted to having an affair with Soon-Yi Previn and falling in love with her but he denied molesting Dylan Farrow. I really don’t know what is true as I don’t want to condemn someone who might be innocent or go after someone who is really guilty.

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  6. Widdershins

    He always set off my ‘creepy guy’ button when I was younger, and I thought it might be because of how he portrayed himself in his films, but as soon as I heard what he was really like (a creepy guy plus) I never watched a film of his again. (same with Roman Polanski)
    There are so many other movies to be watched, I don’t feel like I’m missing out at all. 🙂

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  7. J.

    I’ve never really connected enough with any of his movies to ever really enjoy them… plus, I’ve always thought the way he met his wife was a bit, eh, strange. Definitely a creepy chap… and reading about the thing with Dylan… while unsure what to think due to the complexity of the relationship with Mia and well, y’know… I’m not comfortable watching his stuff. Like Widdershins, I have the same feelings about Polanski.

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  8. Sofia da Costa @ Returning Videotapes

    I’ve always separated art from artist, and I think I’ll always refrain from definitively judging someone without being sure of what’s true and what isn’t, but that’s becoming increasingly hard to do. And I suppose one is rarely “sure”. I still love some of his older movies, though I don’t think I can ever fully enjoy watching them again.

    On one hand I’m glad there’s a way to expel powerful people when the system doesn’t work, but on the other hand, these “media/people” trials are scary to me. Great article, Jay. 👏🏻

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  9. calensariel

    It’s almost a monkey see/monkey do thing. I think people in this country (maybe ALL countries) don’t respond unless it affects them. Went to see Chappaquiddick he other day and was totally disenchanted with the manipulation and outright lies that went on to protect Kennedy, Corruption has been around as long as man, I suspect, but when you start to see it in the light it looks really ugly. Maybe then you can’t avoid it anymore…

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  10. Lloyd Marken

    This was on my mind when I went to review Wonder Wheel for Scenestr last year. In the end because the man wasn’t convicted and there was a long drawn out court and media battle back in the 90s about it I want to avoid persecuting people who could be innocent. Yet consider marrying your former step daughter at such a young age, consider what Mariel Hemingway said. Consider the plot of Manhattan. Things start to add up to something a little troubling if not criminal. I agree with some of the comments about separating work from artist and avoiding mob mentalities but I really thank you for a well though out piece. The worst thing about this is the onus on proof for a victim and stink of condemnation and fear if innocent but accused. What a better world we’d live in if we didn’t have to worry about such heinous crimes. One thing we can all agree on is something has to change and in the past these bastards would lawyer up and that would be the end of it. Now something is shifting and I hope it leads to less abuse and more justice.

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  11. Brittani

    Great work! I’ve always tried to separate art from artist, but it can be hard. I never liked Woody Allen movies to begin with (other than Midnight in Paris) so this was never a hard decision for me. Moving forward, I can still enjoy past movies with questionable actors in them, but I won’t support their upcoming work. American Beauty is my favorite movie and I can’t erase what that movie meant to me. I just can’t, even though Spacey is a POS.

    Scarlett’s silence on Allen is deafening, and very hypocritical of her to call out Franco.

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