Actors Wallace Shawn and Gina Gershon came to Woody Allen’s defense this week in a lengthy attack on his former stepdaughter Dylan Farrow and her allegations of sexual assault.
For years, Farrow has said Allen molested her when she was 7. Her allegations went public in 1992, around the time her mother, Mia Farrow, split from Allen after his relationship with her daughter Soon-Yi Previn, who was 21 at the time, became public. Allen maintained his innocence and denies Dylan Farrow’s allegations to this day, as do Previn and his son Moses Farrow, who both claim Mia Farrow brainwashed Dylan.
Despite repeating the accusations publicly over the next three decades, Mia, Dylan, and Dylan’s brother Ronan Farrow were largely ignored until Hollywood’s Me Too reckoning. In recent years, many actors have publicly supported Dylan and pledged not to work with Allen anymore, and his forthcoming movie A Rainy Day in New York was pulled from Amazon. More recently, Hachette faced major backlash for agreeing to publish Allen’s memoir — enough that, after an employee walkout, the publishing house canceled the book. (Allen managed to release the book through Arcade anyway.)
Yet plenty of Hollywood names — Kate Winslet, Diane Keaton, and Scarlett Johansson among them — stood by Allen, with some going so far as to say they had no problem continuing to star in his movies. Shawn and Gershon, for example, have top billing in Allen’s latest movie, Rifkin’s Festival, whose cast includes Richard Kind and Christoph Waltz, and the press tour has given them ample opportunity to air their grievances with those who’ve turned on Allen. In November, Shawn penned an open letter lamenting that the director had become a “pariah.” This week, he said he’d “followed the case,” “read quite a bit about it,” and “saw the documentary trying to substantiate Dylan’s story,” and yet, he says, “I don’t believe that this happened.” He also called actors’ decisions not to work with Allen a “miscarriage of justice” and called on his fellow Allen sympathizers to help turn “the tide” back in the director’s favor.
Shawn continued his defense in an interview with Gershon on WGN9 in which he said, “I feel that Woody Allen is an innocent man, and it’s an injustice that we’re even talking about this.” He continued:
It’s up to each one of us to study the case if you want to get into it. But I think the more you study it, the more you see that either he did what he’s accused of or he didn’t, either she is strangely mistaken about what she sincerely believes or he is strangely someone who wildly committed a very unlikely crime. And I think he didn’t do it.
Shawn added that everyone “has their strange personal life,” which is one way to describe initiating a relationship with your girlfriend’s 21-year-old-daughter.
Gershon, for her part, justified her involvement with the movie by calling the accusations a “family matter.” She added:
It serves no one to keep great artists from working, even the alleged victims, right? It makes me a little sad that that’s how you lead this whole talk, talking about all that controversy instead of talking about what an incredible artist he is.
Dylan, for what it’s worth, has repeatedly expressed that it is damaging to her to see actors working with her alleged abuser. In a 2017 L.A. Times op-ed, she wrote, “It breaks my heart when women and men I admire work with Allen.” She later said through tears on 60 Minutes, “It is difficult for me to see him and to hear his voice.”