have the right look, the right friends, or an inviting mouth, chances are you can be a
star in Hollywood.
Woody Allen is not
particularly attractive, most people want to be friends with him, and I would
rather not think of his mouth doing anything but delivering his nervous ramblings. But
Woody Allen is not a star, he is a legend. And to be a legend, you have to have talent.
You dont last 35 years in Hollywood by being a hack. Since 1978, Allen has been
nominated for 15 Academy Awards for his acting, writing and directing, winning for both
screenplay and director in 1978 for Annie Hall, and in 1987 when he took home the Best Screenplay Oscar
and her Sisters.
While his film, Small
Time Crooks, may not be one of his greatest works, there are no signs that the
65-year-old Allen will ever stop. He adopted a child with his wife Soon-Yi, is still in
good shape, and more importantly, has inked a long-term deal with DreamWorks SKG, the
studio founded by Steven
Katzenberg and David
Geffen, to distribute his upcoming films. The legend continues to grow.
The issue in Small Time Crooks is that money doesn't buy you
happiness, is that something you've found to be true?
It buys you a lot. There's one or two barriers it can't get past. But everything
else, it's very good. Obviously, you can have all the money in the world, and as my father
said, if you don't have your health, you've got nothing. And there's one or two other
things that it can't buy, but 80 percent of what you need, you can get with money.
Can you remember the first big thing you bought yourself when you finally
got a good chunk of money?
The only thing I ever got I don't have a country home, or a boat, anything of
significance the only thing I ever wanted was a car and driver, which I got years
ago. Because for many years growing up in Manhattan I would find myself in the streets at
two o'clock in the morning coming home from an evening out or something, freezing and
unable to get a lift and unable to get a taxi, so the one thing I wanted was that. It's an
enormous luxury for a New Yorker. Enormous. If I had to give up everything in the world,
that would be the last thing. But I've never cared about anything else.
What about the Knicks'
Yeah, but the Knicks' tickets didn't start as a luxury. What they do is suck you in
and up the price slowly every year. Because when I got my Knicks' tickets they were not a
lot of money. They were like $75 for a courtside seat, $65 maybe, and that was fine. Mine
are now $250 apiece. What happens is they incrementally raise them. Like next year, even
though the Knicks may not be better, it will be five dollars more to go. Poor Spike Lee. I
believe his tickets are at least a thousand a seat, if not fifteen hundred, and more for
the playoffs. So every game that he goes to, he's spending at least two thousand dollars a
game if not three thousand. And there are forty-two home games.
Did you ever steal something as a kid? A lot of kids have those stories,
where their parents made them put it back.
I have that story. Just once in my life I took a little paper moustache, the kind
that you stick on your nose. And I mentioned to my father that I had stolen it and he
grabbed me and dragged me back to the store, which was a block-and-a-half away, and made
me put it back. That was the only time.
You learned your lesson?
Yeah, I never stole anything again. I only stole it because all my peers stole for
fun. I didn't need it and I didn't want it.
How old were you?
I must have been ten-years-old. What it was, you bought a penny piece of gum and you
got the moustache. But I just took the moustache. It was a challenge.
You once said that if you could come back as anything you would come back
as Warren Beattys
fingertips, it seems ironic now that his fingertips are in diapers, so are yours
I dont do diapers. Im very hands on as a father, you know, I read to the
baby and I play with the baby, but I draw the line at diapers. I dont mind if she
throws up on me. Soon-Yi doesnt like that - its a rough one for her. I
dont mind that. But diapers, probably because of my upbringing or something, I just
cant do it. Soon-Yi can do it effortlessly.
How old is the baby now?
About 14 months.
How is it to be a father at this age? Is it harder, is it better?
Its exactly the same. Its not as if I was a father at twenty and now
Im going to be sixty-five, also, I dont notice a physical difference in my
ability to do things. I still get up in the morning and exercise and lift weights, I
dont feel like Im ninety. Its effortless. I dont have any problems
from that point of view. And I feel lucky, because I wouldnt have been able to
really support a child at that age and it would have been a factor. I would have had to go
on the road as a comedian. Now I dont have to. Now I can afford to have the child
without the pressures.
Its a trend in Hollywood that all these guys that are older are
having babies. Beatty, Nicholson.
Theres no reason why not. I mean, I dont see any reason not to have a
child. It has nothing to do with ones age it has to do with ones physical ability
and financial ability to raise the child. Im more fit to have a child now than when
I was twenty. Physically Im fine. My father will be a hundred this year, my
mothers ninety-four. Im in good health. Why shouldnt I have a child? I
can roll around on the floor with her and match her in stamina effortlessly, so why not?
One day when she starts dating, are you going to be tough on these young
guys that come in?
Im liberal that way. I remember my experiences going before fathers, and they
had real moustaches. They would look at me and say, young man, would you like a
cigarette? testing me to see if I smoked at fourteen or something. But you hope that
you get lucky. You raise a child and you hope that shes not going to come back and
say, I did a thing in my journalism class on Charles Manson and
weve fallen in love, Im going to marry him.
You went a long time between marriages. Was it good that you didnt
do it sooner again?
Its just a question of the right person. I got married the first time when I
was very young. I was nineteen, my wife was seventeen, and we both wanted to get into the
world. And we did and she was a wonderful woman. Very talented. A pianist, a philosopher,
and she was terrific and we had a very good marriage, but we mutually went in different
directions. Then I married Louise, who I was crazy about and am to this day, were still very
good friends. I had no real interest in getting married, particularly, and then Soon-Yi
and I started going out and it seemed liked the right thing to do, and it was the right
thing to do. Weve been very, very happy. We have a child and a house and it was very
And you moved from your apartment.
Yeah, that I feel a little bit bad about. I moved into a house. Let me put it to you
this way, I was petrified of moving into a house. I felt that in a co-op I was protected
by the doorman and the building, and I thought in a house anyone could get in and bludgeon
me to death in my bed at night. After a month in the house I wished someone would come in
and bludgeon me to death. It would be a relief. Its so difficult to do a house.
Looking back on your career, its so amazing, everyone is clamoring
to work with you, you have total creative control. Have you ever just sat back and thought
to yourself, I am just incredibly lucky?
I say that all the time. I always say that Ive been incredibly lucky and that
people have a tendency to underplay the roll of luck in life and I feel that people
underplay that because theyre so scared to lose control. I dont feel that. I
feel that Ive been completely lucky. That if I didnt have a talent to amuse
people, I would have scuffled to have some kind of job, I dont know what. I would
have done the best I could. Instead, due to some quirk of nature, I was able to make jokes
and be amusing. Ive led a very, very privileged life and out of pure luck. Im
the first one to say it. I feel personally that, in a number of ways, I really
havent lived up to the luck that Ive had. Ive tried my best to, but I
wish I had achieved better things then Ive done. But Im totally cognizant of
the fact that Ive just been completely lucky.
What amuses you these days?
I liked Wonder Boys.
I liked Magnolia.
Im not saying these are perfect films, every film has it's audience or not. But
personally, those are films that I enjoyed. I thought that they were not factory-made
films. They were not aimed to pander to any special market. East West is
has said one of the things he admires about you is that you embrace your influences rather
that try to depart from them. Do you feel that?
I do. To this day, I still have my idols in photographs on the wall. Martha Graham used to
say, if youre going to steal, steal from the best, and I have always
embraced the people that I have idolized and tried to incorporate what Ive enjoyed
in their films and in their styles in mine.
Think about how many walls your picture must be on.
I dont know. I was in conversation with Martin Scorcese some time ago
and I was pointing out that, in my opinion, I-- and Im not saying this
pejoratively-- I have influenced nobody, whereas Marty, everytime I go to a movie, I see
his influence. Correctly so, because hes a brilliant director. Ive seen Altmans influence; Coppolas influence. But
mine, I dont really see. There are certain people in every field that do not
influence. They can do perfectly good work, Im not denigrating my work. Like in
jazz, for example, Charlie Parker
was a monstrous influence everywhere, but Thelonious Monk, who is a definite genius, has no real heritage.
Practically nobody was influenced by him. I feel that Ive influenced nobody. I would
be very surprised if my picture was up on someones wall. It may be, but I just would
Have you read Tony's Hunter S. Thompson
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