One of the biggest names in Hollywood over the past 50 years has been Woody Allen. The prolific director’s personal life has been the subject of great scrutiny and debate yet, despite this, he rarely sits down for interviews. In fact, he has managed to maintain a reasonable amount of privacy in the face of great controversy.
A commonly discussed topic is his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn. He met his future bride while he was still married to her adoptive mother, Mia Farrow. In a rare moment, the 79-year-old opened up to NPR and said: “I started the relationship with her and I thought it would just be a fling. 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.”
Since his relationship with Previn began with him as her stepfather, many have expressed outrage over him becoming romantically involved with her. He is, after all, 35 years older and he met her while she was still a teenager (it should be noted, however, that Previn told Time magazine in 1992 that she never considered Allen a father figure). Rather than feeling that his actions were predatory, the director credits luck for their long-lasting marriage.
He explained: “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.” It’s certainly an interesting way to look at things.
Even those who don’t question the appropriateness of the situation often wonder how their age difference affects their union. After two decades of marriage, Allen says: “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. She enjoyed being introduced to many, many things that I knew from experience, and I enjoyed showing her those things. She took them, and outstripped me in certain areas that I showed her.”
Allen and Previn have two adopted children and, in a time when many celebrity marriages seem to be ending, their relationship seems to be going strong. What do you think of the situation? Was Woody Allen wrong to get involved with his former wife’s daughter?