Never one to shy away from sharing her opinions on Hollywood or politics, Scarlett Johansson said she believes Woody Allen during a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, and her comments have already caused a massive backlash on social media (Bustle reached out to Johansson's rep regarding the backlash, but did not receive an immediate response.)
While speaking with the magazine, the actor reflected on working with Allen on three films— Match Point in 2005, Scoop in 2006 and Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2008 — and her friendship with the controversial director. "How do I feel about Woody Allen?" Johansson asked before explaining, "I love Woody. I believe him, and I would work with him anytime."
The actor appears to have been referencing the allegations of sexual abuse against the director. In a 2014 op-ed for the New York Times, the director's adopted daughter Dylan Farrow accused Allen of molesting her as a child, allegations which were first made back in 1993, though a judge ruled at the time that evidence of any such abuse was "inconclusive," as reported by Slate. (Allen has repeatedly denied Farrow's claims of abuse, including most recently in an op-ed published in February of 2014.) However, in the wake of Farrow's piece for the Times, many actors who have appeared in his films — including Greta Gerwig and Timothée Chalamet — have expressed regret for working with Allen and Amazon canceled their deal to distribute his new films.
Johansson, however, told THR that not only does she not regret working with Allen, she has remained close with him over the past decade. "I see Woody whenever I can, and I have had a lot of conversations with him about it," she said. "I have been very direct with him, and he's very direct with me. He maintains his innocence, and I believe him." Her comments have since sparked a major backlash on social media, with many Twitter users calling her out for defending the director.
When asked how she balances her belief in Allen with her support of the Time's Up campaign and the #MeToo movement, Johansson said, "It's hard because it's a time where people are very fired up, and understandably. Things needed to be stirred up, and so people have a lot of passion and a lot of strong feelings and are angry, and rightfully so. It's an intense time."
This is far from the first time that Johansson's comments have inspired a backlash on social media. In 2017, she was criticized for playing a role based on a Japanese character in Ghost in the Shell. Johansson told Bustle of the backlash, "I would never presume to play a race that was not mine. Ever." In the 2017 interview, she added, "I think diversity in Hollywood is an important conversation to have, and I think it is something I totally understand, and support." One year later, Johansson pulled out of the film Rub & Tug, in which she would have played a transgender man.
In a July interview with As If, Johansson admitted that she wasn't happy with the fact that "political correctness" was policing the kind of roles that actors can and cannot take. "You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job," Johansson told the outlet. She continued, "I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions." In response, critics and social media users criticized Johansson for those comments, noting that her privilege as an attractive, white woman meant that there are more opportunities available to her in Hollywood than LGBTQ+ actors and actors of color.
Shortly after the As If interview made headlines, Johansson released a statement claiming that her comments were "widely taken out of context." She continued, "I recognize that in reality, there is a wide spread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cis gendered actors and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to."
Clearly, Johansson is no stranger to online controversy. And her most recent comments on Allen seem to suggest that she is more determined than ever to share her unfiltered opinions on issues in Hollywood — for better or for worse.