The Careers of Woody Allen's Leading Ladies After Starring In His Films — You're Up Next, Kristen Stewart
I can't help but raise an eyebrow when a new Woody Allen project is announced. Deadline revealed Woody Allen has put together a cast for a new untitled film. The plot of the movie hasn't even been revealed, but we do know that Kristen Stewart, Bruce Willis, and Jesse Eisenberg will be starring in it. Considering Allen's long history of inter-generational love stories, I wouldn't be surprised if Stewart and Willis were the romantic leads. The trio is quite the interesting choice for the controversial director. Eisenberg's public image has been on the decline ever since he revealed himself to be a total jerk, Stewart is often received as gloomy and "over it," while Willis remains a big Hollywood action star, despite having taken a dip in the Wes Anderson pool. This project could change all of their images in big ways — and it could either make them Oscar favorites (As Woody Allen movies often are) or seen as sympathizers to an abuser. Let me explain.
When I first heard Emma Stone would be starring in Woody Allen's next film Irrational Man, I was as angry as I was when I found out Beyonce worked with Terry Richardson on the music video for "XO." Why pop culture heroes, why?! The entertainment industry has a strange relationship with men who have been accused of sexual abuse. And by strange I mean they overall and in general let them get away with it. Allen, who was accused of molesting his adopted daughter Dylan when she was 7, has faced plenty of backlash and bad press, but it hasn't really done a thing to end or even malign his career. Nearly two years ago Dylan Farrow and Allen's ex-wife Mia Farrow spoke up again about the case and it split the industry in two: those who think he's guilty and those who think he's still a great artist regardless of the abuse and/or believe the Farrows made it up.
Needless to say, having an affiliation with Woody Allen carries certain connotations. It's particularly difficult when it comes to the women who star in Allen's films. Do all of his leading ladies need to make a statement on the case? Let's take a look at the women who have starred in Allen's films, their responses, and how it has impacted their careers:
Woody Allen Films: Magic in the Moonlight (2014), Irrational Man (2015)
Stone's first film with Woody Allen was filmed before Dylan Farrow published her open letter about the abuse, so we can't fairly wag a finger at her for that one. At the time, Stone was thrilled by the opportunity. In an interview with The Independent, Stone said, "What I've always wanted to do are movies like movies that Woody makes[.]" Stone did not comment on Allen's guilt or innocence when the accusations of his abuse opened back up. She did however sign on to star in Irrational Man with Joaquin Phoenix, which says plenty on its own. She has also since been nominated for an Academy Award for her work in Birdman, and her slate of upcoming films (Aloha, Croods 2) doesn't seem to be ceasing any time soon. In the case of Emma Stone, Allen's controversy hasn't affected a thing.
Woody Allen Films: Blue Jasmine (2013)
Blanchett's performance in Blue Jasmine earned the actress an Oscar in 2014. The ceremony came soon after the allegations erupted and all eyes were on Blanchett. She did thank Allen, even though the focus of her speech was about the importance of telling women's stories in film. It was received as a slightly mixed message, however Blanchett was only minorly criticized. She received more praise for her feminist stance towards the industry and has continued to receive high-profile roles. When asked to speak out about the controversy, Blanchett commented: “It’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family and I hope they find some sort of resolution and peace.”
Blanchett, while existing slightly more under the radar since her Oscar win, is still hard at work, with roles in highly publicized films like the last three Hobbit films, the upcoming Cinderella reboot, Terence Malick's Knight of Cups, and more.
Woody Allen Films: Play it Again, Sam (1972), Sleeper (1973), Love and Death (1975), Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), Radio Days (1987), Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
Keaton has been a longtime collaborator with Woody Allen and came to his side when Dylan Farrow's letter was published. Keaton said in an interview with The Guardian: "He's the strongest person I've met in my life." When asked directly about Farrow's accusations she commented, "I have nothing to say about that. Except: I believe my friend."
Keaton has a voice role in Finding Dory, the companion film to the beloved Finding Nemo, and a handful of other flicks. It's clear her long-standing friendship with Allen hasn't transformed the work she's able to secure.
It's a frustrating intersection when such highly-regarded feminists take stances that either defend or glaze over the accusations. Their personal relationships and professional experiences with the director of course color those opinions. However, it would have been more helpful to at least comment on how quickly the world rose to blame both Dylan and Mia Farrow first. When you look at the men and women who have starred in Allen's films, their responses, and the general "I'd rather not get involved" attitude, it just sort of feels like Hollywood would rather turn a blind eye than deal with a mess. Not to say it's up to them to right the wrongs, but as the stars, they're the faces the public looks to first.