What Woody Allen Wants to Do Before He Dies
by Alan Zeitlin
Woody Allen told a sold-out crowd at the 92nd Street Y that he isn’t satisfied with his resume.
“I would like to — before I die, which could be coming up imminently — I would like to make a great movie,” Allen said last week. “I’m talking about a great movie, not a movie where kind people clap and say ‘oh it’s wonderful.’ I mean a great movie that’s undeniably great.”
The 81-year-old actor and director, who won the Best Director Oscar for “Annie Hall,” and got another for his script for “Midnight in Paris,” said that he is in “a desperate attempt to achieve immortality on my own terms.”
There was no mention of Allen’s recent comments about Harvey Weinstein, which many media outlets criticized as being too soft. There was also no mention of allegations of abuse against Allen, which have been made by his daughter, Dylan Farrow. Allen has denied the allegations, and has not been prosecuted.
As for future performance possibilities, Allen told the crowd that he would not be doing any stand-up comedy.
“You’ve got to be on stage for about an hour,” he said. “It’s gotta be laugh, laugh, laugh, one after the other. You can’t give them any breathing time or anything. It’s really a tough situation. … It’s too strenuous, I think.”
Allen also revealed a fear of germs when it comes to meeting actors who audition for him.
“They shake your hand, and you’re not in the immediate grasp of Purell,” he quipped.
Speaking about the nature of acting, Allen said that he only hires those who are genuine, and marveled at how some actors make a key mistake.
“It’s a very interesting thing, how an actor will come into our room and they’ll be just charming and talk like we’re all talking here, like regular human beings and then we give them something to read and they go into their acting mode, and they’re suddenly acting and they would never speak like that in real life,” Allen said. “It becomes artificial immediately.”
Asked if there is a link between comedy and being depressed, Allen said that it’s a mixed bag — with Robin Williams an example of someone suffering on the inside and people like Jerry Seinfeld, who “seems like a very adjusted sweet guy who is funny and also enjoys his life.”
Allen’s next film, “Wonder Wheel,” opens in December. It stars Kate Winslet and Justin Timberlake as a guy who is a lifeguard and also a graduate student at New York University (NYU). Allen recounted how years back, he was told by deans and NYU to leave the school and see a psychiatrist.
Psychiatrists play a prominent role in some of Allen’s films, and he said that there’s a good reason for it.
“There are certain buzzwords that are funny to people,” he said. “Psychiatrists and psychoanalysis are always good for a laugh.”