At lunch for reporters on Thursday (May 12), Woody Allen spoke out for the first time about a controversial rape joke that was part of Wednesday’s opening night ceremony at the Cannes Film Festival.
“I am completely in favor of comedians making any jokes they want,” Allen says to a question asked by Variety. “I am a non-judgmental or [non]-censorship person on jokes. I’m a comic myself and I feel they should be free to make whatever jokes they want.”
At last night’s 69th annual Cannes opening night premiere of Allen’s comedy “Cafe Society,” master of ceremonies Laurent Lafitte shocked the audience when he said: “It’s very nice that you’ve been shooting so many movies in Europe, even if you are not being convicted for rape in the U.S.” The joke, which drew gasps from the Palais audience, was taken as a knock on Allen and possibly on director Roman Polanski as well.
But apparently, Allen wasn’t upset. “It would take a lot to offend me,” he continues. “What bothered me most last night was the length of the show before the movie. I’m sitting there. I know I have a movie that’s an hour and a half, I would like the introduction ceremony to be 20 minutes, half hour at the most. I don’t want you to spend an hour on the show. By the time my movie comes around at the end, you’re antsy in your seat. To me, that is the mistake of the show. It goes on for too long. Cut that down.”
Vanity Fair’s Katey Rich then asked about the Ronan Farrow guest column published in The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday, about how the media didn’t take seriously the rape allegations made by his sister Dylan Farrow against their father. Allen said he hadn’t read the piece.
“I never read anything about me, these interviews I do, anything,” Allen says. “I said everything I had to say about that whole issue in The New York Times. I have moved so far past it. I never think about it. I work. I said I was never going to comment on it again. I said everything I have to say about it.
When asked by Variety if he’ll ever read the piece, Allen responded with a lengthy answer — that compared a son’s indictment of his father to a bad review.
“I never read anything,” Allen says. “I never read what you say about me or the reviews of my film. I made the decision I think five years ago never to read a review of my movie. Never read an interview. Never read anything, because you can easily become obsessed with yourself. [It’s] a bad idea to consume yourself with this stuff. You should do your work, not call up and find out how the grosses are, how is the film doing, how are the reviews. Forget about all that. Just work. It’s worked for me. I’ve been very productive over the years by not thinking about myself. I don’t like to hear that a critic thinks my film is a masterpiece and I don’t like to hear that a critic thinks my film misses.”
“But this isn’t a critic,” a Variety reporter followed up. “It’s your son.”
Allen said he still won’t read the piece. “I’ve said all I have to say about it,” he says.