An Interview with Woody Allen

Thought I’d share this interview from Premiere Magazine. I believe it is from the December 2005 issue. Woody Allen is by far one of my favorite directors/actors/writers and I love anything he does. Some excerpts:

Woody Allen Speaks!

The enigmatic director on Match Point, and which of his films are his favorites. By Jason Matloff

Haven’t comedies always been easier to get made?
Serious films are less commercial and comic films are more acceptable to audiences. But to the degree that the business is so box office–driven, I’ve been able to really tap-dance around that over decades, but if you get a little help there, it greases the skids. I think I’ve proved if nothing else that you can survive outside the system without films making much or any money. But it makes life easier, and it makes artistic life easier, if you could get a little help.

Much like Crimes and Misdemeanors, Match Point deals with infidelity and violence. Do you feel the films are very similar?
Crimes and Misdemeanors was first of all fifty percent comedy—the half with Mia [Farrow], Alan Alda, and myself. In the other part, the important thing for me was that people commit crimes every day and get away with them, and if it doesn’t bother the perpetrator, there’s no justice or retribution of any kind that’s going to catch up with them. And that was an intellectual point that I wanted to make. In Match Point I was more interested in the emotions and passions of the characters. It’s less doctrinaire, less intellectual.

How do you think fans will react to Match Point’s lack of comedy?
I have no fans. [laughs]

Now you’re just being humble.
I feel that I never have had, at any point in my life, a really big fan base that supports me and makes my films profitable or break even, actually. And I understand that because I’ve never thought of them, and they in turn don’t think of me. I’m going to do the films I want to do—whether they are in black and white, dramas or comedies with sad endings—and just hope and root for a big audience to come. And of course a big audience just about never does. I have a healthy worldwide audience, but in the United States, I think I have a small audience, so there’s never any big burst of profit.

You’re notoriously hard on your own films. What do you think of Match Point?
I think it turned out to be the best film I’ve ever made. Everything just fell in for me: I needed Scarlett Johansson, I got her. I needed Jonathan Rhys Meyers, he was available. I needed a young guy to play the [Tom Hewett] part, Matthew Goode walked into my life. Brian Cox was available. Emily Mortimer was available. I needed it to rain, it rained. I needed a sunny day, it was a sunny day. It was just incredible. It was like I couldn’t screw myself up no matter how hard I tried.

Which other films do you consider your best?
Probably Husbands and Wives and The Purple Rose of Cairo; then it becomes a question of personal favorites. I like Zelig but someone else who’s a fan might say they liked Annie Hall better.

I’m surprised you didn’t mention Annie Hall, which of course won the Best Picture Oscar and is probably your most adored film.
I enjoyed making it, but I have no special feeling toward any of [my films]. The fact that the public embraces one film over another doesn’t mean anything to me, because for me the test is, did I fulfill my idea. Very often I see the film I’ve made and I’m very disappointed and I think I’ve screwed up the idea or gotten fifty or ninety percent of what I wanted to do but not one hundred.

How successful would you say you were with Annie Hall?
I got a good percentage but not one hundred. I must say I was surprised at the enormous affection that the public had for it. I’m not surprised they enjoyed it; I mean, I think it’s an enjoyable film, but they took it to their bosom very emotionally and affectionately. But the person who makes a film is probably the worst judge of how other people see it.

Any plans to cast yourself as a romantic lead again?
If I wrote a script where it felt right despite any kind of chronology, I would do it. But it’s practically impossible for me to play the romantic lead in a movie because I am about to turn seventy. So it’s just not good casting. I mean, people don’t want to pay to see me play the romantic lead when they can see Hugh Jackman or Brad Pitt.

In Match Point, luck is a key concept. Do you consider yourself lucky?
I’m very lucky, for many reasons. I was lucky to have a talent, because I was not really very good in school and I don’t know what I would have done. I had a good family growing up, and my parents lived to very ripe old ages. When I first started in show business, and films especially, all the things written about tended to overlook my faults and emphasized my strengths. I played baseball with Willie Mays at Dodger Stadium during a celebrity game, I’ve played jazz in New Orleans clubs, I’ve dined at the White House and traveled all over the world. I’ve done all those things that I could ever have imagined doing in my life.

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