Wallace Shawn calls backlash against Woody Allen ‘a miscarriage of justice’

‘I didn’t care for the fact that so many of my fellow actors just assumed he was guilty,’ said The Princess Bride actor

The star of Woody Allen’s latest film has defended the director against a persistent accusation he molested his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, in 1992. Allen has always denied the allegation and two investigations into the case resulted in no charges being brought.

Wallace Shawn, who has featured in The Princess Bride, Clueless and six films by Allen, has written an open letter explaining his reasoning for believing that Allen was innocent, and admonishing other actors who have “distanced themselves” from him.

“I was very upset that some of my fellow actors leapt to the conclusion that Woody was guilty of a serious crime that you can go to prison for without really knowing that much about it,” Shawn told Yahoo Movies.

“Of course, if someone like [Dylan] says ‘This happened to me,’ I don’t fault people for thinking: ‘That might be true.’ But on the other hand, Woody said, ‘That didn’t happen,’ and I didn’t care for the fact that so many of my fellow actors didn’t look into it any farther, and just assumed he was guilty.

“I’ve followed the case: I’ve read quite a bit about it, I saw the documentary trying to substantiate Dylan’s story and I don’t believe that this happened.”

Farrow restated her accusation in an open letter to the New York Times in 2014, in the wake of the acclaim for Allen’s Oscar-winning drama Blue Jasmine. Her brother, Ronan, resurfaced the claims in 2016, coinciding with the Cannes premiere of Allen’s comedy Café Society.

A documentary on HBO last year presented the case from the points of view of Dylan, Ronan and their mother, Mia Farrow.

A number of stars with whom Allen, 86, has worked have expressed regret for their collaborations. In 2016, Selena Gomez and Timothée Chalamet donated their fees from romantic comedy A Rainy Day in New York to #MeToo. Kate Winslet, Rebecca Hall, Colin Firth, Rachel Brosnahan and Michael Caine are among those who have said they would no longer work with Allen.

However, stars including Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Larry David, Alec Baldwin, Diane Keaton, Blake Lively, Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart have defended the director.

Shawn said he felt the prevailing assumption that Allen was guilty was “a miscarriage of justice”.

“I hope that the more of us who stick our neck out and say, ‘You must not jump to that conclusion,’ it will become easier for more people to say that,” said Shawn. “At the moment, people’s agents tell them to denounce Woody and to not work with him. If more people – like Scarlett Johansson and Dianne Wiest – say, ‘We’re delighted to work with him,’ then maybe eventually the tide will turn.”

Shawn stars alongside Gina Gershon, Christoph Waltz and Louis Garrel in Rifkin’s Festival, which opened to muted domestic box office last weekend. The film made $24,000 from 26 cinemas across the US.

Allen’s previous film, A Rainy Day in New York, was a surprise commercial hit, despite the negative publicity surrounding Chalamet’s and Gomez’s statements, and Amazon dropping the film and their multi-picture deal with Allen, who later filed a $68m suit for breach of contract.

That film made $22m worldwide in cinemas despite its mid-pandemic release, and broke streaming records.

Allen remains one of the few directors who makes one film a year in their 80s. Details of a 50th film are still to be confirmed.


Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

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