Woody Allen opens up about relationship with Soon-Yi Previn: "She responded to someone paternal"

The controversial director spoke about his marriage to Soon-Yi Previn in an interview with NPR

Published July 30, 2015 2:41PM (EDT)

Woody Allen         (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)
Woody Allen (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

In an interview with Sam Fragoso on NPR, Woody Allen opened up about a topic he rarely discusses: His controversial relationship with wife Soon-Yi Previn. Previn, who is 35 years younger than Allen, was the adopted daughter of Allen’s ex-partner Mia Farrow. Allen started dating Previn while he was still in a relationship with her mother.

Asked about his thought process when initiating the relationship with Previn in the late '80s, Allen said: “I started the relationship with [wife Soon-Yi Previn] and I thought it would just be a fling,” Allen told interview Sam Fragoso. “It wouldn’t be serious, but it had a life of its own. And I never thought it would be anything more. Then we started going together, then we started living together, and we were enjoying it. And the age difference didn’t seem to matter. It seemed to work in our favor actually.“

"She enjoyed being introduced to many, many things that I knew from experience, and I enjoyed showing her those things,” he continued. “She took them, and outstripped me in certain areas that I showed her. That's why I'm a big believer in luck. I feel that you can't orchestrate those things. Two people come along and they have a trillion exquisite needs and neuroses and nuances and they have to mesh, and if one of them doesn't mesh, it causes a lot of trouble. It's like the trace vitamin not being in your body. It's a tiny little thing, but if you don't have it you die.”

At another point in the interview, he described himself as having a paternal relationship to his much younger wife (something the pair have in the past denied), saying: "I'm 35 years older, and somehow, through no fault of mine or hers, the dynamic worked. I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me, and I was happy to give her an enormous amount of decision making just as a gift and let her take charge of so many things. She flourished. It was just a good luck thing.”

The interviewer also attempted to wade into even more controversial territory and address the allegations that Allen sexually abused his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow. However, it isn’t clear whether the interviewer addressed Dylan Farrow by name, and the question occurred immediately following their discussion about Previn, which was tabloid fodder at the time it began. We’ve included the full exchange below:

The separation between church and state, artists and their personal lives — do you think the allegations [that you sexually abused your adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow,] have affected how people approach your movies?

I would say no. I always had a small audience. People did not come in great abundance and they still don't, and I've maintained the same audience over the years. If the reviews are bad, they don't come. If the reviews are good, they probably come.

Read the full interview over at NPR.

By Anna Silman

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Movies Soon-yi Previn Woody Allen