Actor Wallace Shawn, who has appeared in six Woody Allen movies, defended the filmmaker against sexual abuse claims by daughter Dylan Farrow in an op-ed, writing that the allegations don’t ‘square with the sense’ he has of Allen.
Shawn, 77, says Dylan may have misremembered what happened when she said Allen touched her inappropriately when she was seven years old in 1992.
He also wrote that Dylan may have been influenced by her mother Mia Farrow’s feelings toward Allen.
At the time, Mia and Allen were estranged and Allen was just beginning a relationship with another one of Mia’s adopted daughters, Soon-Yi Previn – who was a teen when the relationship began.
Shawn’s defense, published in TheWrap on Wednesday, mirrors the lines put forth by Allen and his supporters since the case became public in the early 1990s as part of a custody battle between Allen and Mia.
Dylan’s brother Ronan, a journalist who has reported on sexual assault by powerful men, has supported Dylan’s allegations. Their brother Moses Farrow, Allen, and their adopted sister Soon-Yi, who’s still married to Allen, categorically denies them.
Wallace Shawn, 77, (center) has defended filmmaker Woody Allen (left) in an op-ed published Wednesday on the entertainment blog TheWrap
Shawn says he has come to the personal conclusion that Allen didn’t abuse his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow in an attic in 1992 when she was 7. Above, Allen and Dylan in 1988
In a lengthy 3,500-word essay, Shawn criticized Dylan’s rebuke of actors who continue to work with Allen despite her allegations, which she resurfaced in a New York Times op-ed in 2014.
‘The letter was a challenge to any actor who had appeared in a Woody Allen film or contemplated appearing in one in the future, and it wasn’t difficult for me to realize that I had to take this personally,’ he said.
Dylan publicly accused Allen of abuse, years after the allegations first emerged, in a letter published in the New York Times in 2014
The actor has appeared in six Woody Allen films, including Rifkin’s Festival, which was released in Italy and Spain last year.
He calls Allen a ‘marvelous filmmaker’ and says that working with him as always been ‘wonderful,’ though he admits that he couldn’t claim ‘to have had more than the briefest chats with him on the set’ by the time of Dylan’s 2014 letter.
He goes on to suggest that Dylan made use of the #MeToo movement to further her claims.
He also slammed actors who have distanced themselves from Allen, refencing Timothée Chalamet, who said he was donating his salary from his starring role in 2019’s A Rainy Day In New York, in which he starred opposite Selena Gomez.
‘Society was suddenly listening to women, most of what the women said was obviously true, and so what a woman said in any given case was more likely to be true than not,’ he said.
Dylan’s brother Ronan Farrow and her mother Mia have stood by her allegations. Shawn says they’ve pledged ‘eternal loyalty to the accuracy of her account
‘Then fear entered the picture. Many of my colleagues came to feel that to work for Woody Allen, quite apart from whatever the facts might or might not be in the Woody Allen-Dylan Farrow case, would indicate to others that they had no concern for women or for the improvement of the condition of women in the world.
‘And the more the word got around that actors were declining to work for Woody Allen, the more it came to seem to other actors and their agents that anyone who did work for him might well be shunned by everyone in the industry and might never work again, and so agents simply told their clients that Woody Allen was toxic and they should stay far away from him.’
Dylan’s claims were further explored in the HBO production Allen v. Farrow.
In the four-part docuseries released this year, Mia Farrow shared a previously unreleased home video in which Dylan, 7, recounts being assaulted by Allen.
Dylan can be heard clearly describing how Allen, her adoptive father, had allegedly ‘touched her private parts’.
The video was shot by Mia as proof of the incident. Dylan claims the Oscar-winning director told her: ‘Do not move, I have to do this,’ as he touched her in the attic of the family’s country home.
Dylan Farrow is asked on a 1992 video recording about what happened when she was alone with her adoptive father, Woody Allen
‘I didn’t want him to do it, mama,’ she’s heard telling her mother of the incident. ‘I didn’t like it.’
The short clip was filmed shortly after Allen had paid a visit to the family’s country home in Connecticut in August 1992. Mia was out at the time and Allen was said to have gone straight to Dylan.
Allen allegedly told Dylan he would take her to Paris and give her roles in all his movies before he sexually assaulted her.
‘I remember sitting on the steps with him in the country house. There was nobody else around, and he was directing me on how to suck his thumb – telling me what to do with my tongue, and I think that lasted a while. It felt like a long time,’ Dylan said.
In his op-ed, Shawn says that Dylan, Ronan and their mother ‘cornered each other in a three-sided trap in which each has been forced to pledge eternal loyalty to the accuracy of Dylan’s account of what happened on August 4, 1992.’
‘It’s as if any wavering on the part of any one of them about the accuracy of that account would be taken by the other two as a terrible betrayal, a sign of the absence of love.’
Woody Allen and Mia Farrow with Dylan and Ronan, their only son together, in 1988
He acknowledges that Dylan shows ‘real suffering,’ but concludes that ‘Woody didn’t commit the crime.’
In an editor’s note, Dylan’s spokesperson said the idea that Shawn ‘could validate Dylan’s personhood and then go on to invalidate her life experience’ was ‘flawed.’
Dylan’s taped recounting was used as evidence in the 1993 custody battle between Allen and Farrow, which led to a controversial investigation by the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of Yale-New Haven Hospital that cleared Allen of wrongdoing.
Shawn cited the investigation in his defense of Allen: ‘Over the course of repeated re-tellings, Dylan was not consistent in her account of what had happened, where it had happened, and other details, and sometimes she said that nothing at all had happened’
Shawn argued that memory often fails people and can be ‘modified after the fact by influences of all kinds.’
Experts have debated the merits of the Yale-New Haven investigation, saying that it was not the hospital’s job to declare Allen not guilty and criticizing the repeated questioning of Dylan, who could have been retraumatized by the memories.
In Allen v. Farrow, a family friend spoke of another questionable incident at the home in Connecticut.
Casey Pascal told Mia that a babysitter in the house said she saw Dylan sitting on the couch with Allen ‘kneeling on the floor with his head buried in her lap.’
‘She said she felt she’d walked in on a very adult situation and realized it was a child and she was horrified to the core. She said Dylan was staring off into space and Woody’s face was in her lap,’ Pascal said.
Pictured from left to right: Allen, Dylan, Ronan Farrow, Daisy Previn, Soon Yi Previn, and Moses Farrow with Mia on the far right
Allen and Soon-Yi remain together to this day despite their 34-year age gap. They have two daughters, Bechet Dumaine and Manzie Tio
‘I remembered she [Dylan] had not had any underpants on [afterwards]. She was sitting next to me. I said to her: “Did this happen, did daddy have his face in your lap yesterday?” She said yes,’ Mia added.
That’s when Mia got her video camera out and recorded Dylan as she asked her about what happened.
There appeared to have been two incidents, one on the couch and a second in the attic.
Shawn argues: ‘Even if he had in fact been a desperately driven sex maniac, as Mia now believed him to be, he would have recognized that on August 4, 1992, Mia’s house was full of people who already considered him to be precisely that, and he would have been well aware that it would therefore not be smart to try to commit an act of sexual molestation against his daughter there, even if there had been a moment in the day when he could have done such a thing without being observed, which there probably was not.’
In his essay, Shawn, who’s also appeared in The Princess Bride and repeatedly clarifies that his view of Allen may be biased.
‘As a short New Yorker who’s made his way in the world partly by being vaguely amusing, and as an older male who has experienced various types of good fortune and privilege, I do inevitably identify with Woody Allen to one degree or another.’
Shawn also defended Allen’s current marriage to Soon-Yi Previn, who was adopted by Mia and her previous husband, pianist Andrew Previn.
In Allen v. Farrow, Mia says she doesn’t know when their relationship started, but that she found naked photos of Soon-Yi at Allen’s apartment when Soon-Yi was in her first year of college.
‘The fact that he and Soon-Yi have now been together for close to 30 years may indicate that the affair could be interpreted somewhat differently from the way that people interpreted it at the time, but that’s another story.’
Allen and Soon-Yi are still married and have two daughters: Bechet Dumaine Allen and Manzie Tio Allen.