Amid a bombardment of tabloid missiles and an outpouring of accusations and counteraccusations, Woody Allen decided to talk with Newsweek about his relationship with Mia Farrow, with her children and his, and with Soon-Yi. He also responded to the accusations of abuse of his adopted daughter Dylan. Following is an excerpt from the three and a half hour interview in his Fifth Avenue penthouse apartment.
Q: The question most people are concerned about is Mia Farrow's charge that you sexually molested Dylan. Is this in any sense true?
A: Of course not. I'm on record with the most unequivocal denial that you can possibly imagine. It's unthinkable. And with TC certain amount of time, that will become clear, and that issue will go by the wayside.
I mean, look at the logic of it. Do you think that on the eve of signing an agreement with Mia in which we had hammered out [custody], I'm going to get in a car, drive up to Connecticut in broad daylight, in an open house with many people walking in and out . . . that I'm going to pick that moment in my life to . . . to do this thing? I mean it's just, it's just absolutely out of the question completely.
Q: Were you alone with Dylan on Aug. 4?
A: Was I alone with her? No. I play with the kids all the time and I'm in and out of the house and there are always people around. I'm not saying those people have their eyes trained on me every second. . . . But I was never alone at any time.
Q: Supposedly this took place in the attic.
A: This is so laughable. First of all, I couldn't find the attic in Mia's house. I mean I have never been in an attic. I'm a famous claustrophobic; wild horses couldn't get me into an attic.
Q: Allegedly Dylan herself has spoken of sexual abuse by you. What do you know about that?
A: I know things she said, and I'd rather not say them. But she's either been put up to it, or in some frightening way, in an atmosphere rife with hostility toward me and lectures about how evil I am, this has crept into her psyche in some way. Beyond that, I can't say.
Q: You have said that this sort of behavior has never been part of your profile. But some people we've interviewed have said that you've been known for fondling these kids in various ways.
A: Fondling my children?
A: Well, absolutely, but not in any sexual way. There is no person in the world that will come into court and say anything like that and stand up to any kind of cross-examination. I've been a model, model father with these kids. I mean I'm affectionate like my parents were with me, but that's it.
Q: At what point did you sue for child custody?
A: Mia could have prevented it all. When she accused me of child molestation, I felt that was the time to say I don't want my children in that atmosphere, it's too sick. And that's when I did what I had to do. I never thought about anything but the children.
I didn't think about my reputation; I don't care if I never work again. . . . When that happened, that was so grotesque, and so fraudulent and so sick that I felt I've got to get those children out.
Q: What was your relationship with Soon-Yi before you became involved with her?
A: Mia and I were going through the motions of a long-defunct relationship and, you know, I would get up, go there in the morning, play with my kids and then go to work. And then come back at night, play with the kids, put 'em to bed. Mia and I had a civil relationship. We went out to dinner once a week, maybe, but we never did anything together.
I was not remotely close to Soon-Yi. She is the adopted daughter of Andre Previn and Mia. I must have spoken to the other kids in that house a hundred times more than Soon-Yi. Soon-Yi was a quiet person, and I never had any interest in her at all. None. And then once, when she was 20 years old or almost 21, one night I had no one to go to the basketball game with me, and she wanted to see a basketball game live.
Well, I took her to the game and, we chatted and had a nice time. And she said some things to me about the family that shocked me, and she said, you know, you're not over here enough, so you don't really know, but it's not what you think it is. And we talked, and we got friendly, and a month or so later I said I'm going to the game again, do you want to go?
And we went and we had a nice time and, and gradually over a period of time a strictly talking relationship developed. And then only, only long after the relationship was finished with Mia did it very gradually drift into an intimate relationship.
Q: Many people, including some who admire you, have expressed concern that you are involved with a young woman to whom you have been in loco parentis, a father figure.
A: But she's not part of my family. Soon-Yi has a very high-profile father; I was not a father figure to those children. I was a father figure to my own children, period. Those are the three in my will.
Q: But Soon-Yi is the sister of all those kids.
A: Yes, but it's not that they're really sisters.
Q: It has been alleged that in your affair with Soon-Yi you've taken advantage of someone who has learning disabilities and a very low IQ.
A: I can only tell you this: If you think that I could enjoy myself with a dumb person. . . . I've done the usual things with Soon-Yi that I would do with any person -- screen my Bergman films, go to the ball games, talk. Soon-Yi has a B average in college, she takes literature courses and sociology and psychology courses, and she's fine. I am in no way with a retarded person. She's wonderful company; I couldn't be more delighted with her.
Q: What about those nude photos? How did you come to take them?
A: We were sitting around in this room, as a matter of fact, talking about her modeling career and she said would I take some nude pictures of her. I'm not a person that knows much about cameras; I mean I'm not good at that. And I, I took a small amount and left them out, and . . . and that was the, um, the origin of . . . I mean, there's nothing more to say about that.
Q: Some people have characterized them as pornographic.
A: That's too absurd for words. There are no sexual acts depicted, there's nobody else in them . . . I mean, I think you know, one man's lascivious pose is another man's . . . I would say, you know, they were pretty sexy pictures. But what Soon-Yi and I do in our private moments is nobody's business; we're two grown-up people.
Q: What's your vision of the future with Soon-Yi?
A: I think it's moving along very, very positively and very, very well. It's serious; I see it as a major, major situation. I see no limit for it at the moment.
Q: Is marriage a possibility?
A: Possible, uh-huh.
Q: Many people have invoked what they think of as your preoccupation with considerably younger girls, especially because of certain plot lines in your films.
A: Well, that's just a smear. Where, where are these young women? It's absurd, a stupid perception. It just doesn't bear out against the realities, the relationships of my life. I've been married twice, and have a long-term relationship with Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow. So the four most major relationships of my life are all age-appropriate relationships.
Q: There are also those who claim you're having a kind of midlife crisis -- that this is a classic case of a man having reached a certain age, who reaches out to a very young person to recharge batteries, and to restore a vitality and sense of self.
A: Yes, one could speculate about those things. I mean, there's no way of ever knowing that . . . I mean I myself wouldn't know that myself. But, you know, people that have known me for a long time, and have known of the situation, and of Soon-Yi, have said to me: Take Soon-Yi and run. They say, you're a lucky guy, she's delighted and happy, and you guys have terrific times together. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
Q: What would you like to see happen now?
A: My first wish would be that in some way Mia could find herself, and she and I, going our separate ways, would remain civil with one another, and could be wonderful parents to the children so they would have the benefit of a healthy mother with them and a good father. And my destiny with Soon-Yi, we work out together, she and I, as a totally separate issue.
I realize that this relationship had an unusual provenience, but, you know, so what? So have a million other relationships. I mean, I think it was meant to be, it will triumph . . .
Jack Kroll is Newsweek's senior editor.