Comedian and filmmaker Woody Allen has backed the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, claiming he would have been a "poster boy" for the cause if he hadn't been unfairly maligned in his view.
"It is a good thing they are exposing them," Allen told Canal 13 television network, during an interview with Argentine journalist and presenter Jorge Lanata.
Lanata landed a coup by first getting Allen to agree to an interview and second, by getting him to share his view on the #MeToo movement and the abuse claims against him.
The publication of bombshell articles about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in October has triggered a watershed moment that has since felled the careers of dozens of powerful men across a variety of industries.
"I should be the poster boy of the MeToo movement. I've worked in movies for 50 years, I've worked with hundreds of actresses, and not a single one has ever suggested any kind of impropriety at all," he continued, adding that the women working in production in his films had all been paid the same as men.
The 82-year-old actor and director said that he was frustrated he was being bracketed with abusers exposed by the movement over allegations he molested his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, in 1992 when she was seven years old. He was cleared of the charges, first levelled by his then-wife Mia Farrow, after two separate months-long investigations.
Farrow in 2014 renewed the claim that Allen molested her in an attic in 1992 when she was seven years old. Farrow has previously questioned why the #MeToo movement hasn't ensnarled Allen. Earlier this year, Mira Sorvino published a public apology to Farrow, saying she was sorry for "turning a blind eye" to Farrow's accusations against Allen. She also vowed never to work with him again.
"People who have been accused by 20 women, 50 women, 100 women of abuse and abuse and abuse, and I – who was only accused by one woman in a child custody case, which was looked at and proven to be untrue – I get lumped in with these people," Allen said. "This is just so crazy. This is something that has been thoroughly looked at 25 years ago by all the authorities, and everybody came to the conclusion that it was untrue. And that was the end, and I've gone on with my life. And now, for it to come back now, it's a terrible thing to accuse a person of. I'm a man with a family and my own children. So of course it's upsetting."
The allegations resurfaced in the wake of the #MeToo movement, leading a string of actors Allen has worked with to distance themselves from him.
"I'm in principle, and in spirit, completely in favour of their bringing to justice genuine harassers," Allen said during the interview. "Now, if innocent ones get swept up in there, that's very sad for the person, it's unjust, but otherwise, I think it's a very good thing to expose harassment."
Moses Farrow, the adopted son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, released a lengthy personal essay last month, disputing the story and accusing his mother of abuse.
How Lanata got the interview
According to reports in US media outlets, Lanata exploited personal connections to land the interview, which drew lots of attention in the United States but less at domestically.
A report by Quartz said that that "a common friend" of the interviewer and interviewee hooked the duo up. The friend was identified as Pedro Chomnalez, "a fellow Argentine and former head of Credit Suisse investment bank, had children who attended kindergarten with Allen’s two daughters," Quartz said.
After making contact, Lanata reportedly sent the US director examples of his work. Before long, the two were sat together in New York, watching a film together and recording an interview.
"Lanata said that no topics were off limits and there were no formal rules for the chat—other than that it could only be aired in Argentina," Quartz reported.
“It had to be an open conversation,” Lanata explained to the publication, “or else I would not have done it.”