On January 28, the New York Times published a story speculating about future difficulties Woody Allen may encounter in trying to finance and distribute his films. The article noted the renewed attention being paid to Allen’s history in the wake of #MeToo — including stars publicly repudiating their work with the filmmaker and the first televised interview from his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow. Farrow first accused Allen of molesting her in 1992, when she was 7 years old, and has continued to maintain her story for the past quarter-century.
Alec Baldwin, who has worked with Allen on several films, has defended the director before, noting that no charges were filed against Allen following an investigation. While conceding that the conversation around Allen “no doubt has some purpose,” Baldwin has simultaneously characterized the renunciation of Allen’s work as “unfair and sad.”
Following the Times’s story, Baldwin once more tweeted in defense of Allen — and in the process cast doubt on Dylan Farrow:
1 of the most effective things Dylan Farrow has in her arsenal is the “persistence of emotion.” Like Mayella in TKAM, her tears/exhortations r meant 2 shame u in2 belief in her story.— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) January 28, 2018
But I need more than that before I destroy some1, regardless of their fame.
I need a lot more.
Baldwin’s tweet seems to be comparing Dylan to Mayella Ewell, the character Tom Robinson is falsely accused of raping in To Kill a Mockingbird; Mayella is revealed to have lied about the rape with the encouragement of her manipulative father, Bob, who caught Mayella making sexual advances toward Tom. However, given that Dylan is accusing Allen of assaulting her as a child, the analogy is poorly considered. To Kill a Mockingbird strongly implies that Mayella was molested by her father, an abusive drunk; in courtroom testimony, Robinson says that Mayella “reached an’ kissed me ‘side of th’ face. She says she never kissed a grown man before an’ she might as well kiss a ni**er. She says what her papa do to her don’t count.”
Baldwin went on to reference Dylan’s brother Moses, who has sided with Allen against Dylan’s accusations. (Dylan is supported by her mother, Mia Farrow, and her brother Ronan Farrow, the investigative journalist who is partly responsible for breaking the Harvey Weinstein story.)
If my defense of Woody Allen offends you, it’s real simple.— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) January 28, 2018
Baldwin isn’t the only prominent person who came out in defense of Allen following the Times article. Allen’s friend and collaborator Diane Keaton (who won an Oscar for starring in his 1977 film Annie Hall) also defended the filmmaker on Twitter, referencing a 60 Minutes interview in which Allen, among other defenses, characterizes the claim as “illogical” and says, “If I wanted to be a child molester, I had many opportunities in the past”:
Woody Allen is my friend and I continue to believe him. It might be of interest to take a look at the 60 Minute interview from 1992 and see what you think. https://t.co/QVQIUxImB1— Diane Keaton (@Diane_Keaton) January 29, 2018
That actors are carrying the conversation about Allen right now — both in distancing themselves from the filmmaker and in supporting him — is significant, because it speaks to the source of Allen’s power in the industry. The Times story noted that his success as a filmmaker largely depends on a few factors. For decades, Allen has made a film nearly every year using the same model, casting major stars based on his reputation as a filmmaker and the possibility of attracting awards-season attention to their performance. Those major stars attract the attention of distributors, and selling distribution rights ahead of time finances the film.
Of late, Allen’s films have underperformed at the US box office, though they still do well overseas (Allen is very popular in Europe in particular). But if stars pull out of his films, they will become much harder to finance in the first place. So though there’s seemingly a bottomless well of actors willing to work with Allen, the small but growing snowball effect of stars publicly voicing regret could cut into his bottom line — especially if agents and managers begin to advise actors to avoid working with Allen, as one strategist cited in the NYT story did. (Some suggest that Kate Winslet’s awards-season hopes for her performance in his 2017 film Wonder Wheel were hampered by renewed talk about Allen’s history.)
Allen’s film A Rainy Day in New York (starring Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Hall, both of whom have voiced regret for their work with Allen) is still slated to be released via Amazon in 2018 (though anonymous sources at Amazon told the NYT that the company is reevaluating its relationship with Allen). But as the discussion around Allen’s history continues to intensify among both his supporters and his detractors, the fate of his future films hangs in the balance.