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Wallace Shawn calls on actors ‘like Scarlett Johansson and Dianne Wiest’ to publicly defend Woody Allen

Actor said he was ‘angry’ that Allen had ‘became a pariah’ over the sexual abuse allegations

Annabel Nugent
Friday 28 January 2022 09:33
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Allen Vs Farrow HBO documentary trailer

Wallace Shawn has called on stars, including Scarlett Johannson and Dianne Wiest, to publicly defend Woody Allen.

Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, has accused him of molesting her when she was a child. The filmmaker has categorically denied the allegations, which Farrow first made in 1992 when she was seven years old.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Allen – who was cleared by two investigations in the Nineties – faced renewed criticism over the allegations. Many actors including Colin Firth, Rebecca Hall and Kate Winslet have said they would not work with him again.

Shawn stars in Rifkin’s Festival, the first film Allen directed following the termination of his four-movie deal with Amazon Studio in 2017.

The Princess Bride star is among the celebrities, including Javier Bardem and Diane Keaton, to defend Allen against the accusations. In November last year, Shawn penned an open letter titled “Why I’m Still Willing to Work with Woody Allen”.

In a recent interview, the actor opened up about his motivations for writing the letter.

“I was very upset that some of my fellow actors leapt to the conclusion that Woody was guilty of a serious crime that you can go to prison for without really knowing that much about it,” Shawn said.

“Of course, if someone like [Dylan] says ‘This happened to me,’ I don’t fault people for thinking ‘That might be true.’ But on the other hand, Woody said, ‘That didn’t happen,’ and I didn’t care for the fact that so many of my fellow actors didn’t look into it any farther, and just assumed he was guilty.”

Shawn added that he “followed the case” and “read quite a bit about it”.

“I saw the documentary trying to substantiate Dylan’s story and I don’t believe that this happened,” said Shawn. While he did not specify which documentary he had seen, it may have been HBO’s 2021 docuseries Allen v Farrow.

The actor said he was “angry at my fellow actors” and “at the fact that Woody Allen — someone who has done beautiful things for the world — became a pariah”. He called it a “miscarriage of justice”.

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“At the moment, people’s agents tell them to denounce Woody and to not work with him. If more people – like Scarlett Johansson and Dianne Wiest – say, ‘We’re delighted to work with him,’ then maybe eventually the tide will turn,” he added.

In 2019, Johansson – who has starred in three of Allen’s films – defended Allen, stating: “I love Woody. I believe him and I would work with him any time.”

Scarlett Johansson and Woody Allen at the New York premiere of 'Match Point' in 2005

When later asked about her comments, the Match Point star doubled down, adding: “I don’t know – I feel the way I feel about it. It’s my experience. I don’t know any more than any other person knows.”

Rifkin’s Island stars Shawn as Mort Rifkin, a New Yorker who attends a prestigious film festival in San Sebastián, Spain, alongside his increasingly estranged wife, Sue (Gina Gershon).

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.

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