As the accolades continue to pile up for her directorial debut, the affecting coming-of-age story Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig has been dogged by questions about her decision to work with Woody Allen on 2012’s To Rome With Love. It came up during her recent interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, and again backstage at Sunday’s Golden Globes, after her film won the award for Best Picture Musical or Comedy. In both cases, Gerwig more or less explained that she needed to do more soul-searching before taking a definitive stance.
But on Tuesday, Gerwig told The New York Times’ Frank Bruni that she does in fact regret having collaborated with the director, and that she will not work with him moving forward. “I can only speak for myself, and what I’ve come to is this,” Gerwig said. “If I had known then what I know now, I would not have acted in the film.”
Allen has been accused of sexual abuse by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow, and the question of why actors still clamor to work with him has taken on a new sense of urgency in the #MeToo era.
Farrow first came forward in 2013 with allegations that Allen had molested her as a child, but the accusations against him stem all the way back to 1992, when his ex-wife, Mia Farrow, alleged that Allen had abused their then-7-year-old daughter in the attic of Farrow’s Connecticut home. In the years since, Farrow has spoken in detail about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Allen, including in an open letter that she penned after the director was feted at the 2014 Golden Globes with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, the same honor that was bestowed on Oprah Winfrey this past Sunday.
In the hours leading up to the 2018 Globes, Farrow unleashed a series of tweets pointing out the hypocrisy of the celebrities who attended the awards ceremony clad in all black in support of the Time’s Up initiative, many of whom have worked with her father despite the allegations made against him. Farrow first made the argument in an op-ed she wrote in December for The Los Angeles Times, titled “Why has the #MeToo revolution spared Woody Allen?” in which she referenced Gerwig specifically. Farrow reiterated her disappointment to BuzzFeed on Monday, and criticized Justin Timberlake, who was seen wearing a Time’s Up pin on Sunday and who also stars in Allen’s latest film, Wonder Wheel.
“I struggle with how a powerful force like Justin Timberlake can claim to be in awe of the strength of women and stand with them at this #MeToo moment, and then in the next breath say that working with Woody Allen is a ‘dream come true,’“ Farrow told Buzzfeed.
Gerwig seems to have taken Farrow’s words to heart. "Dylan Farrow’s two different pieces made me realize that I increased another woman’s pain, and I was heartbroken by that realization,” she told the Times. “I grew up on his movies, and they have informed me as an artist, and I cannot change that fact now, but I can make different decisions moving forward.”
Though Gerwig is in the minority in her criticism of Allen, she isn’t the first actor to show remorse for choosing to work with the legendary director. In November, Ellen Page—who also starred in To Rome With Love—called making a movie with Allen the “biggest regret” of her career and attributed her “awful mistake” to being an emerging Hollywood actress who felt pressured. More recently, actor David Krumholtz said that he “deeply regrets” working with Woody Allen on Wonder Wheel, and that it’s one of his “most heartbreaking mistakes.” He also revealed that he donated his entire Wonder Wheel salary to Time’s Up.
On Wednesday, Mira Sorvino—who won an Oscar for her performance in Allen’s 1995 film, Mighty Aphrodite—voiced her support for Farrow and vowed to never work with Allen again. "Even if you love someone, if you learn they may have committed these despicable acts, they must be exposed and condemned, and this exposure must have consequences,” Sorvino wrote in The Huffington Post.
But Krumholtz, Sorvino, Page and Gerwig are outliers in an industry stacked with people who dismiss the allegations against Allen either because they’re unproven or because it’s a private matter involving a dysfunctional family. Kristen Stewart, who starred in Café Society, told Variety that as someone who’s been the subject of false rumors, she wasn’t in the position to persecute someone else. Match Point star Scarlett Johansson clumsily justified her decision by pointing out that Allen had not been found guilty in the court of law and that it would be ridiculous for her to make “any kind of assumption one way or the other.“
But the real reason that actors continue to work with Allen and then justify it is because in Hollywood, Oscars are worth more in weight than integrity.
Gerwig is by far the most high-profile celebrity to publicly hold herself accountable for working with Allen, and she likely won’t be the last. Maybe she did it because she doesn’t want to have to keep defending herself as awards season chugs along, or maybe it was because she was facing a real crisis of conscience. We’ll know later this year if Gerwig has indeed started a movement when Allen’s next film, Rainy Day in New York, hits theaters. Production on the film began pre-Weinstein, and Allen has no other films lined up. One of its stars, Selena Gomez, has said that she’s "not sure” how to address the criticism she’s faced for deciding to work with Allen, which has been the template answer to that line of questioning for far too long. The next time she’s asked about it—and she will be asked—that kind of uncertainty just won’t be good enough. Greta Gerwig made sure of that.