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Woody Allen condemned for calling a 19-year-old Scarlett Johansson ‘sexually radioactive’ in new memoir

‘Apropos of Nothing’ sees controversial filmmaker make similar comments about actors including Emma Stone, Christina Ricci and Penelope Cruz

Adam White
Friday 27 March 2020 09:12
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Woody Allen says he should be the poster boy for the Me Too movement

Woody Allen has been criticised for “tone deaf” remarks in his new memoir, including one that describes a 19-year-old Scarlett Johansson as “sexually radioactive”.

In the filmmaker’s controversial book, Apropos of Nothing, Allen describes first meeting Johansson after casting her in his 2005 film Match Point.

“She was only 19 when she did Match Point but it was all there: an exciting actress, a natural movie star, real intelligence, quick and funny, and when you meet her you have to fight your way through the pheromones,” Allen writes.

He continues: “Not only was she gifted and beautiful, but sexually she was radioactive.”

He later adds of Johansson that he “used her in a few movies” and hopes to work with her again “before I die or senility sets in and I’m drooling, but not over her”.

In his review of the book for The New York Times, critic Dwight Garner called the remarks “tone deaf”, along with a number of statements Allen makes about his wife, Soon-Yi Previn, and actors including Christina Ricci and Naomi Watts.

He describes Watts as having “the sexiest two upper front teeth in show business”, Ricci as being “plenty desirable”, Emma Stone as “fun to look at” and Rachel McAdams as a woman who “looks like a million bucks from any angle”.

He also jokes that casting Johansson and Penelope Cruz opposite one another in 2008’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona “caused each woman’s erotic valence to cube itself”.

Apropos of Nothing was published this week (23 March) by Arcade Publishing, after original publishers Hachette dropped the book following mass walk-outs by staff at the company over the book.

Allen also uses the memoir to suggest actor Timothée Chalamet only “denounced” working with him to boost his Oscar chances. Elsewhere in the book is a further denial from Allen that he ever “laid a finger” on his daughter Dylan, who has long accused him of sexually abusing her.

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