Allen Says He's No Wiser for His Age

By Steve Gorman

Director Woody Allen says the 1992 scandal that shattered his relationship with actress Mia Farrow and led him to marry her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, was one of the luckiest moments of his life.

In a rare interview appearing this week in Vanity Fair magazine, the reclusive, Oscar-winning filmmaker gives himself a "B" for his body of work and laments never having made as great a movie as "8 1/2" or "The Seventh Seal."

He also says he has learned little or nothing with age.

"All the crap that they tell you about ... getting joy, and having a kind of wisdom in your golden years -- it's all tripe," said Allen, who turns 70 on December 1. "I've gained no wisdom, no insight, no mellowing. I would make all the same mistakes again, today."

Allen said Farrow's discovery of the nude photos he had of Soon-Yi in his apartment as "one of the fortuitous events, one of the great pieces of luck in my life."

Allen's affair with the Korean-born daughter Farrow had adopted with conductor and ex-husband Andre Previn ended Allen's decade-long relationship with Farrow. She then accused Allen of molesting another daughter they had adopted together.

He was cleared of the charges, but his reputation was badly tarnished. He married Soon-Yi in 1997, an outcome he acknowledges would, in hindsight, have seemed improbable.

"If somebody told me when I was younger, 'You're going to wind up married to a girl 35 years younger than you and a Korean, not in show business' ... I would have said, 'You're completely crazy."'

Although he describes his marriage to Soon-Yi as having "a more paternal feeling to it," he sees their age difference as an asset because it lessens conflict.

"When there's a disagreement, it's never an adversarial thing. I don't ever feel that I'm with a hostile or threatening person," he said. "She's very self-possessed and she runs the house and the kids and our life."

Despite their bitter breakup, Allen insists he bears no professional grudge toward Farrow and even suggested casting her as his wife in "Mighty Aphrodite" just after the scandal broke. He calls the idea a result of the "compartmentalization" he keeps between his work and personal life.

"I'm just not the kind of person that thinks, 'Well, you did a terrible thing to me in my life, and so I'm not working with you,"' he said. On the other hand, he added, "I wouldn't put, you know, Hermann Goering in a part."

As for his career as a filmmaker, Oscar-winning director of "Annie Hall" said his movies fall far short of works by such masters as Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman or Akira Kurosawa.

"I feel that level of greatness is just not in me," he said. "It may just not be in the genes, or I just don't have ... the depth of humanity to do that."

Allen's latest film, "Match Point," starring Scarlett Johansson, opens in December and is regarded as a possible Oscar contender.


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