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The Reckoning of Woody Allen

After a new interview in which Dylan Farrow details her allegations of assault against Allen, and with the cast of his upcoming film speaking out against him, the end of the director’s long career may be in sight

Woody Allen Getty Images/Ringer illustration

In an interview on Thursday on CBS This Morning, host Gayle King referenced a popular argument made by those who side against Dylan Farrow, Woody Allen’s adopted daughter, who said in 1992 that he molested her. “Someone said this to me: ‘She wants to bring Woody Allen down. She’s caught up in the #MeToo, #TimesUp movement.’”

“Why shouldn’t I want to bring him down?” Farrow responded. “Why shouldn’t I be angry? Why shouldn’t I be hurt? Why shouldn’t I feel some sort of outrage that, after all these years, being ignored and disbelieved and tossed aside.”

She continued: “With so much silence being broken by so many brave people against so many high-profile people, I felt it was important to add my story to theirs because it’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time and it was … it was very momentous for me to see this conversation finally carried into a public setting.”

The #MeToo movement, sparked by 84 women detailing stories of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault (Weinstein denies all claims), has already led to a seismic shift in how Hollywood responds to those who have engaged in sexual misconduct. Stories about prominent figures like Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, and Brett Ratner have led to the end — or at least the indefinite suspension — of their careers. Spacey was dropped from the final season of House of Cards and his scenes in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World were removed and reshot; C.K. is no longer working with longtime television partner FX, and his movie I Love You, Daddy was dropped by its distributor before release; Ratner has no future directorial projects attached to his name, and his producing credit on the Wonder Woman sequel will be removed after star Gal Gadot threatened to quit the franchise if Ratner was still involved.

Yet for all the artists who have had sexual misconduct accounts irrevocably (and rightfully) affect their careers, the punitive measures of this new era haven’t extended to Woody Allen. This despite his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, saying that he molested her in 1992. Dylan’s story came out amid a contentious custody battle between Allen and his then-wife Mia Farrow. (The couple divorced after Allen had an affair with then-21-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, Farrow’s adopted daughter from a previous marriage, whom Allen would later marry.) For years, Allen has maintained that he never sexually abused Dylan, claiming she was coerced by her mother into fabricating her story. On Thursday he maintained that position, saying in a statement to CBS that “the Farrow family is cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time’s Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation.” On the other side, Farrow, Dylan, and Dylan’s brother Ronan — who wrote The New Yorker’s exposé on Weinstein — have repeatedly said that Allen is guilty. When Allen was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at the 2014 Golden Globes — the same award Oprah accepted with her rousing speech this year — Ronan pointedly objected to Hollywood’s idolization of his father.

Throughout the familial spats — and despite the fact Allen has never been fully exonerated of Dylan’s charges — the director has continued to make movies, some of which have been nominated for, and won, Oscars. He’s carved out a career that’s allowed him to release about one film a year and work with A-list actors like Cate Blanchett, Colin Firth, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone, and others. At 82, he’s showed no signs of slowing down his blistering pace.

However, with #MeToo as a springboard, Allen’s stature in Hollywood is finally being reconsidered. Actors who’ve appeared in his films have expressed regret about working with him. Mira Sorvino, who won an Oscar in Allen’s 1995 film, Mighty Aphrodite, and who shared her story of being sexually harassed by Weinstein last year, wrote an open letter to Dylan in HuffPost on January 10, lamenting how she had turned a “blind eye” to the allegations about Allen. “I am so sorry, Dylan!” Sorvino wrote. “I cannot begin to imagine how you have felt, all these years as you watched someone you called out as having hurt you as a child, a vulnerable little girl in his care, be lauded again and again, including by me and countless others in Hollywood who praised him and ignored you.”

A couple of months before that, Ellen Page, who posted on Facebook about her previous experiences of sexual harassment and assault — notably with Ratner on the set of X-Men: The Last Stand — wrote that working with Allen on 2012’s To Rome With Love was the “biggest regret of my career.” Actor David Krumholtz tweeted on January 5 that working on Allen’s 2017 film Wonder Wheel was “one of my most heartbreaking mistakes.” And when Lady Bird writer-director Greta Gerwig — who collaborated with the director on To Rome With Love — was asked about Allen by The New York Times on January 9, she stated, “I have not worked for him again, and I will not work for him again.”

For so many years, those in Hollywood were able — and permitted — to compartmentalize Woody Allen, to take roles in his films with confidence that Farrow’s story must be fabricated, or without needing to consider her story at all. Just a year ago, actress Blake Lively proudly defended Allen and stated that he was “very empowering.” But the #MeToo movement has resoundingly emphasized that survivors’ stories ought to be believed and argued that the men who wield their power inappropriately ought to face consequences. That’s changed what it means to work with Allen, and, as a result, his future as a filmmaker is more uncertain than it’s ever been.

Several stars of his forthcoming movie, A Rainy Day in New York, have voiced their regret over working on the project and taken action to right their wrongs. Griffin Newman, Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Hall, and Selena Gomez have all pledged to donate their salaries to organizations like RAINN, GLAAD, and the Time’s Up movement. “I am learning that a good role isn’t the only criteria for accepting a job,” Chalamet wrote, announcing his decision on Instagram.

A post shared by Timothée Chalamet (@tchalamet) on

A Rainy Day in New York — which includes a plot point about a young woman being romantically involved with a much older man, a recurring theme in Allen’s films — is expected to be released sometime this year; for now, its fate hangs in the balance. There’s still a chance it may not be released at all as a way to avoid larger public backlash, similar to how the Orchard pulled the release of C.K.’s I Love You, Daddy. If A Rainy Day in New York does come out, it will likely do so without a marketing push. Think about the minimal promotional tour for Allen’s 2017 film, Wonder Wheel — which was defined, by the way, by Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, and Jessica Chastain icily glaring at Kate Winslet as she spoke favorably about Allen — and then imagine something even more nonexistent. The movie, should it come out, would likely be buried by its distributor Amazon Studios — a studio that, notably, underwent major structural changes when its top executive, Roy Price, resigned amid sexual harassment claims.

The director’s deal with Amazon Studios will culminate with A Rainy Day in New York — and so too may Allen’s filmmaking career. As writer Mark Harris has pointed out, it’s hard to imagine Amazon or any other studio taking a flyer on Allen with the level of scrutiny surrounding him, and even harder to imagine any A-list actor willfully hitching themselves to Allen in the wake of #MeToo. Woody Allen’s reckoning has finally arrived.