CANNES, France — From an outsider’s perspective, it was a rough first day at Cannes for Woody Allen.
While he was holding court during the official press conference for his new film Café Society, his son Ronan Farrow was publishing a blistering essay in the Hollywood Reporter, in which he criticized the mainstream press for not scrutinizing Allen thoroughly enough over the longstanding sexual abuse allegations that were spotlighted after the release of Blue Jasmine in 2013.
That evening, Allen attended the opening night ceremony for the festival that was scheduled before the world premiere of Café Society. French comedian Laurent Lafitte shocked the audience by joking, "You’ve shot so many of your films here in Europe and yet in the US you haven’t even been convicted of rape." Gasps were heard in the theater, but speaking to a number of outlets, including Vox, at a private lunch on Thursday, Allen brushed the controversy aside, saying he’s "heard a million jokes" about himself.
"I am completely in favor of comedians making whatever jokes they would like. I am not a censorship person. I feel they should come out and make whatever jokes they would like," Allen said. "I sat there and was enjoying a good portion of the show. I always think those shows are too long because I feel when you are sitting there with a movie you don't want the audience to sit that long in the theater because you think just sheer sitting, they are going to want to get up, so that was the only thing that made me antsy."
And, asked point blank whether he’d read Farrow’s essay, he made it clear to Vox that he hadn't — and would not.
"I never read it. I did my piece for the New York Times and I bowed out of that whole thing," Allen said, referring to his 2014 op-ed discussing the accusations made against him. "I said everything I could say and they gave me space and that was the end for me."
If Allen was masking any discomfort over the previous day’s events, he’s a better actor than he’ll admit, because he seemed completely unfazed regarding the matter. In fact, he had a more visceral response to inquiries regarding his forthcoming Amazon TV series that he says should debut this October.
Bluntly, he’s most excited that it's finished.
"It was much harder to do than I thought," Allen says. "I thought I would just pick up a quick paycheck and knock it out. It did not work that way. It was a lot of work to do. It was hard work and I was blessed with a good cast."
Allen joked that by creating six half-hour episodes, he "fulfilled the minimum requirement," and noted that he doesn’t have a "prayer" of figuring out how to watch the finished series on Amazon. He added, "I'm one of those guys who has to put tape over the buttons to not hit the wrong button. If my wife doesn't turn on the TV I have to sit and wait."
Speaking about the rest of his Cannes experience so far, the four-time Oscar winner also revealed he’d actually met three actresses he’d long admired for the first time at Café Society's world premiere: Julianne Moore, Jessica Chastain, and Eva Longoria. Moreover, he said he’d love to work with all three of them at some point, as well as Jennifer Lawrence.
As for his next project, all Allen would reveal is that it will be set in an amusement park. If he has his druthers, he’ll shoot it on Coney Island, but if that’s not possible, he’ll find the best possible location to do so somewhere in the continental United States.