Woody Allen's 25-year-long marriage to Soon-Yi Previn has been the subject of much controversy. In brief, Allen began a sexual relationship with the then-21-year-old Previn when he was dating her adoptive mother, Mia Farrow. But in a rare interview with New York magazine, Previn insisted that — though the affair was obviously hurtful to Farrow and surprising to all parties — she never saw Allen as a paternal figure.
"We didn’t think of him as a father,” she said, “and he didn’t even have clothing at our house, not even a toothbrush.” Of the beginnings of their romantic relationship, which date back to 1991, Previn said: "We talked quite a bit, and to the best of my memory I came in from college on some holiday and he showed me a Bergman movie, which I believe was The Seventh Seal, but I’m not positive. We chatted about it, and I must have been impressive because he kissed me and I think that started it. We were like two magnets, very attracted to each other.”
What's more, Previn insists, Farrow was not the loving, benevolent maternal force she portrayed in the public eye. During the interview, Previn brings up several instances of her adopted mother displaying a hot temper, criticizing her harshly, and even saddling her with an unreasonable amount of household responsibilities from a very young age.
In some cases, Previn said, Farrow would resort to "arbitrarily showing her power" by slapping or spanking her and calling her "stupid" and "moronic."
As the New York magazine interview pointed out, one of Farrrow's other children, Moses Farrow, has also commented on Farrow's parenting style in similar terms. In a blog post, he described it as: "a total breakdown of your spirit, to ensure that you would do what she wanted you to do. It’s the honeymoon when you’re first adopted, then the veil gets pulled back and you start seeing Mia for who she is." Farrow also alleges, though his mother has denied the claims: "It pains me to recall instances in which I witnessed siblings, some blind or physically disabled, dragged down a flight of stairs to be thrown into a bedroom or a closet, then having the door locked from the outside. She even shut my brother Thaddeus, paraplegic from polio, in an outdoor shed overnight as punishment for a minor transgression.”
As for Allen and Previn's current life, the couple paints a picture of fairly normal married life. "We eat breakfast together — we eat all our meals together, and we’ve never spent a night apart since we married — and then I work out, either Pilates or my trainer or the treadmill. I also do yoga. I read the New York Times and point out pieces for Woody to read. Then we have lunch, and in the afternoon I’ll see a friend and go to a museum or shopping or whatever," Previn shared.
Still, they are both increasingly aware of the backlash against Allen — especially in light of the #MeToo movement. (Plus, this interview was completed by a friend of Allen's — who disclosed that at the start of the piece — but still drew criticism as biased reporting.) "I am a pariah,” Allen told New York magazine. “People think that I was Soon-Yi’s father, that I raped and married my underaged, retarded daughter.”
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