Strange facts about Woody Allen's marriage
Iconic filmmaker Woody Allen has been married to Soon-Yi Previn for two decades, which in itself is unusual because most Hollywood marriages don't last half of that time, but there are a lot of even stranger aspects to this coupling…and some of them are also slightly disturbing.
His wife is his ex's adopted daughter
We'll start with the obvious: Allen is married to his ex-girlfriend's daughter.Jazz and pop singer Keely Smith dies at 89
Before dating Allen, actress Mia Farrow and pianist Andre Previn adopted Soon-Yi from Korea. After Farrow and Previn split, Allen dated Farrow from 1980 to 1992. Though Allen and Farrow never lived together nor married, they shared one biological child, son Satchel (now Ronan Farrow,) as well as adopted daughter Dylan and adopted son Moses.
Farrow and Allen's relationship ended when she discovered him taking up with Soon-Yi.
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Allen supposedly saw no problem dating Soon-Yi because she wasn't a biological child and because he and Farrow had never married.
He told Time, "I am not Soon-Yi's father or stepfather. I've never even lived with Mia. I've never in my entire life slept at Mia's apartment, and I never even used to go over there until my children came along seven years ago. I never had any family dinners over there. I was not a father to her adopted kids in any sense of the word." He added, "There's no downside to it. The only thing unusual is that she's Mia's daughter. But she's an adopted daughter and a grown woman. I could have met her at a party or something."
Soon-Yi echoed that rationale, telling Time, "To think that Woody was in any way a father or stepfather to me is laughable. My parents are Andre Previn and Mia, but obviously they're not even my real parents. I came to America when I was 7. I was never remotely close to Woody."Assault laws in focus amid Weinstein saga
No one is sure how old she is
Soon-Yi came to the United States as a child without a birth certificate. A bone scan determined her to be between 5 and 7 years old when she arrived in America in 1978, Vanity Fair reported. That means when she and Allen started dating, she was likely between 18 and 20 years old to Allen's 55.
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Audrey Seiger, who tutored Soon-Yi from sixth grade through high school, said she noticed a change in her student during Soon-Yi's senior year of high school.
"Those last six months of high school, there was a definite change. I have no idea when her relationship started with him," Seiger told Vanity Fair. "He was helping her to show her how to dress and prepare herself to be a model, and he arranged for her to have professional pictures taken. When I saw the professional pictures, I was very surprised, because Soon-Yi looked so glamorous."
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Priscilla Gilman, who dated Matthew Previn and was reportedly like a daughter to Farrow, told Vanity Fair that Farrow's other children noticed something was up with Soon-Yi.
"All of a sudden she started wearing these incredibly sexy clothes, and putting on these black, really slinky shirts and little skirts and these pumps and stuff," Gilman recalled of a teenage Soon-Yi. "She would say, 'Don't tell Mom. I'm going to a friend's house.' And I said to Matthew, 'I think she has a secret boyfriend, and I think we should find out who this is.' And Matthew said, 'Oh, no, just let her do her own thing.'"
Sources told Vanity Fair that Moses Allen allegedly told another family member that he saw Woody looking up Soon-Yi's skirt, and one of Farrow's other daughters, Daisy, claimed she noticed Woody touching Soon-Yi's hips.Billionaire conservative wins Chile vote
Farrow found out in the worst way
The story of how Farrow discovered Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi is harrowing.
Vanity Fair reported that Farrow found a stack of nude photos of her daughter at Allen's home, hidden under a box of tissues. Allen reportedly took the photos of Soon-Yi, which he claimed were a tool to kick-start her her modeling career.Ed Sheeran reveals he wrote James Bond theme three years ago
Allen told Time, "Soon-Yi had talked about being a model and said to me would I take some pictures of her without her clothes on. At this time we had an intimate relationship, so I said sure, and I did. It was just a lark of a moment… [Farrow] hit the ceiling [when she found out]. I said, 'Look, our relationship has been over for some time. We should go our separate ways. The important thing is that we do what is right for our children.'"
He claimed Farrow initially encouraged a relationship
In 1992, Allen told Time that Farrow was the one who prompted him to forge a relationship with Soon-Yi–though likely not the specific relationship on which they'd eventually embark.Royal shock: ‘Spacey groped me’
"One night, just fortuitously, I was over at Mia's, and I had no one to go to the basketball game with. And Soon-Yi said, 'I'll go.' And so I took her, and I found her interested and delightful," he said. "Mia had encouraged me to get to know her. She would say, 'Take a walk with Soon-Yi, do something with her. Try and make friends with her, she's not really as hostile to you as you might think.' Mia thought it was fine I took her to the game… I took her to a game again, maybe a month later. And this happened on a few occasions. And we struck up a relationship. It was strictly—I don't want to say an intellectual relationship, because I'm not saying we were discussing Kant or anything, but we chatted about different things."
He got her fired from a summer job
The New York Post reported that after Farrow found out about Allen's relationship with her daughter, she sent Soon-Yi to work at a children's summer camp in Maine in June 1992. The job didn't last, but Farrow didn't know that.Meghan’s first event: the verdict
According to the Post, Farrow later found out Previn had been fired from the camp because Allen was "bombarding her with calls." Farrow didn't even know where her daughter was until she saw paparazzi photos of her Soon-Yi outside Allen's apartment.
Soon-Yi slammed her mom in the press
When news of the relationship broke, Soon-Yi issued a statement to Newsweek defending her romance and alleging that Farrow abused her.Pretty Little Liars star sentenced to jail
She said, in part: "I think Mia would have been just as angry if [Allen] had taken up with another actress or his secretary. Mia was always very hot-tempered and given to rages which terrified all the kids… I have a terrific relationship with Woody and realize it's full of dramatic overtones, but it's really quite simple. It revolves around conversations, film talk, sports talk, books and art. He's very quiet and hardworking and finds it amazing and ironic that our relationship is of such interest to people."
Soon-Yi continued, "I'm not a retarded little underage flower who was raped, molested and spoiled by some evil stepfather–not by a long shot. I'm a psychology major at college who fell for a man who happens to be the ex-boyfriend of Mia. I admit it's offbeat, but let's not get hysterical. The tragedy here is that, because of Mia's vindictiveness, the children must suffer. I will always have a feeling of love for her because of the opportunities she gave me, but it's hard to forgive much that followed."
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Soon-Yi's statement was powerful, but those close to her believe those words were actually Allen's, particularly considering Soon-Yi's learning disabilities and struggles with the English language.
One source told Vanity Fair, "Soon-Yi doesn't know half those words, what they mean."
Soon-Yi's tutor, Seiger, told the magazine: "She's a very typical [learning disabled] kid, very socially inappropriate, very, very naïve… She has trouble processing information, trouble understanding language on an inferential level. She's very, very literal and flat in how she interprets what she sees and how she interprets things socially. She misinterprets situations."Spacey apologises, comes out as gay
He didn't think Farrow would be so mad
Allen seemed baffled at the backlash he faced over his romance with Soon-Yi, and he was especially taken aback at the notion that Farrow may not adapt well to the relationship.
He told Time, "I didn't find any moral dilemmas whatsoever. …[Mia] would have thought more or less the same thing if it had been my secretary or an actress. There is a different psychodynamic here… but the difference is one of small degree." (Did you notice that Allen's language sounds very similar to the wording used in Soon-Yi's aforementioned statement?Strange things about Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel's marriage
Bizarrely, after Farrow found out about Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi, sources told Vanity Fair that he broke down sobbing and asked Farrow to marry him, allegedly saying that the affair with her daughter was "probably good for Soon-Yi's self esteem."
"His whole attitude about it was as though it were a breach of etiquette—he used the wrong form: 'So let's put that behind us. It's embarrassing, but, you know, let's get married,'" Leonard Gershe told the magazine. "[Farrow] couldn't believe what was coming out of him. And then she slapped him."
Allen told Time that the reason he kept his relationship with Soon-Yi a secret from Farrow, at least initially, was because he didn't necessarily think it would last.Country music star Troy Gentry dies in horrific crash
"I wanted to make sure this thing was going to take off," he said. "For all I knew I might have just been a little footnote in Soon-Yi's life, and then she would later say, 'Well, I had a little flirtation with my mother's boyfriend at the end of their relationship.'"
He told NPR, "I started the relationship with her and I thought it would just be a fling. It wouldn't be serious, but it had a life of its own. And I never thought it would be anything more. Then we started going together, then we started living together, and we were enjoying it. And the age difference didn't seem to matter. It seemed to work in our favor actually."
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Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, Allen said of his wife: "She had a very, very difficult upbringing in Korea: She was an orphan on the streets, living out of trash cans and starving as a 6-year-old. And she was picked up and put in an orphanage."
He seemingly left out the part about Farrow adopting Soon-Yi and gave himself a lot of credit instead: "And so I've been able to really make her life better. I provided her with enormous opportunities, and she has sparked to them. She's educated herself and has tons of friends and children and got a college degree and went to graduate school, and she has traveled all over with me now. She's very sophisticated and has been to all the great capitals of Europe. She has just become a different person. So the contributions I've made to her life have given me more pleasure than all my films."
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In terms of his children's thoughts on his relationship with Soon-Yi, Allen seems equally baffled by any resistance. When asked about his children's feelings, the filmmaker told Time: "I don't think they think of 'sleeping with.' They only know what is constantly drummed into them. And I don't think my children feel any lack of affection or any rivalry. Soon-Yi and I will be very, very cognizant of their situation and feelings."
Family friend Lynn Nesbit told Vanity Fair, "He didn't see how traumatic this was to the family."
"At the very outset, it didn't occur to me that this would be anything but a private thing. I felt nobody in the world would have any idea," Allen said in a 1993 court hearing (via The New York Times). When the judge asked Allen about sleeping with his children's sister, he replied, "I didn't see it that way. I'm sorry."Harry and Markle ‘can’t bear to be apart’
She's not a fan of his work
In 2011, Allen told The Guardian that Soon-Yi isn't a fan of his work.
"She's never taken me seriously really. And to this day…she sees me as a complainer, a hypochondriac, a kind of idiot savant. She thinks that I'm very good at what I do and absolutely terrible at everything else. And she's probably not far off," he said. "…People thought when I first married her that, because of this big age difference, I'd married someone who'd idolize me. But that wasn't the case at all. She hadn't seen 90 percent of my movies, and to this day she hasn't seen 60 percent of them. She's just not that interested in them."Fergie ‘didn’t want to divorce Josh’
He admits there's an imbalance
Allen acknowledged the inequality in his relationship with Soon-Yi in a 2005 interview with Vanity Fair, but he said he believed it was a positive thing.
"If somebody told me when I was younger, 'You're going to wind up married to a girl 35 years younger than you and a Korean, not in show business, not having any real interest in show business,' I would have said, 'You're completely crazy,'" he said. "…The very inequality of me being older and much more accomplished, much more experienced, takes away any real meaningful conflict. So when there's disagreement, it's never an adversarial thing. I don't ever feel that I'm with a hostile or threatening person."Where are O.J. Simpson's kids now?
Allen may not have been entirely truthful about the originality of that dynamic. The New York Post reported that when Allen was 41, he dated then-17-year-old actress Stacey Nelkin, which would later inspire his film Manhattan (1979).
He conceded that they have a paternal relationship
Despite Allen's previous denials of having any sort of parental relationship with Soon-Yi, he described his relationship to her as that of a father figure in 2015.Meghan Markle’s $266 million royal impact
He told NPR. "I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me, and I was happy to give her an enormous amount of decision-making just as a gift and let her take charge of so many things. She flourished. It was just a good-luck thing."
He added, "I feel that you can't orchestrate those things. Two people come along, and they have a trillion exquisite needs and neuroses and nuances, and they have to mesh. And if one of them doesn't mesh, it causes a lot of trouble. It's like the trace vitamin not being in your body. It's a tiny little thing, but if you don't have it, you die."