Mira Sorvino, amongst the first wave of women to publically accuse Harvey Weinstein of despicable behavior, apologized to Woody Allen’s daughter Dylan Farrow in an open letter published in the Huffington Post on Wednesday.
In this excerpt, Sorvino explains what propelled her to star in Allen's 1995 film, Mighty Aphrodite, even as allegations of child sexual abuse were swirling around Allen:
I confess that at the time I worked for Woody Allen I was a naive young actress. I swallowed the media’s portrayal of your abuse allegations against your father as an outgrowth of a twisted custody battle between Mia Farrow and him, and did not look further into the situation, for which I am terribly sorry. For this I also owe an apology to Mia.
What I have to say next is not a justification, simply a description of my background with Woody at that time and since. As an adolescent, I cherished my copy of his book “Without Feathers.” I played the Diane Keaton role in a high school production of “Play It Again, Sam” and had grown up, like so many in my generation, in awe of his films. As a young actress I landed the dream role of Linda Ash in “Mighty Aphrodite,” and the artistic license he allowed me to create the character was thrilling. We were friendly though not close, but in no way did he ever overstep his bounds with me; I never personally experienced what has now been described as inappropriate behavior toward young girls. But this does not excuse my turning a blind eye to your story simply because I wanted desperately for it not to be so.As a young actress I landed the dream role of Linda Ash in “Mighty Aphrodite,” and the artistic license he allowed me to create the character was thrilling. We were friendly though not close, but in no way did he ever overstep his bounds with me; I never personally experienced what has now been described as inappropriate behavior toward young girls. But this does not excuse my turning a blind eye to your story simply because I wanted desperately for it not to be so.
It is difficult to sever ties and denounce your heroes, your benefactors, whom you fondly admired and felt a debt of gratitude toward for your entire career’s existence. To decide, although they may be fantastically talented and helped you enormously, that you believe they have done things for which there can be no excuse. But that is where we stand today.
Later, she offers a sincere apology:
I am so sorry, Dylan! I cannot begin to imagine how you have felt, all these years as you watched someone you called out as having hurt you as a child, a vulnerable little girl in his care, be lauded again and again, including by me and countless others in Hollywood who praised him and ignored you. As a mother and a woman, this breaks my heart for you. I am so, so sorry!
We are in a day and age when everything must be re-examined. This kind of abuse cannot be allowed to continue. If this means tearing down all the old gods, so be it. The cognitive dissonance, the denial and cowardice that spare us painful truths and prevent us from acting in defense of innocent victims while allowing “beloved” individuals to continue their heinous behavior must be jettisoned from the bottom of our souls. Even if you love someone, if you learn they may have committed these despicable acts, they must be exposed and condemned, and this exposure must have consequences. I will never work with him again.
Sorvino is not the only actress making amends and trying to justify working with Allen. In a conversation with the New York Times, Greta Gerwig, who just took home a Golden Globe for her film Lady Bird, spoke about her role in Allen’s 2012 film, To Rome With Love
If I had known then what I know now, I would not have acted in the film. I have not worked for him again, and I will not work for him again. Dylan Farrow’s two different pieces made me realize that I increased another woman’s pain, and I was heartbroken by that realization. I grew up on his movies, and they have informed me as an artist, and I cannot change that fact now, but I can make different decisions moving forward.
Farrow's op-ed, detailing how Allen molestated and abused her as a child, was published in 2014, two years after Gerwig worked with Allen. By that time, the allegations made against him in 1990s were often discounted, seen in Hollywood as a dusty memory of a failed custody case that was swept under the rug. In 2014, Allen again denied Farrow's allegations, calling them “tabloid stupidity,” as reported by The Guardian. Concurrently, and in solidarity, Allen’s son, Ronan Farrow wrote a piece in The Hollywood Reporter confirming his sister’s story and condemning the media for not holding Allen, and the stars he worked with, accountable.
Although the sexual abuse accusations leveled against Allen didn't include sexual misconduct suffered by the stars themselves, it’s surprising that so many actors are choosing to keep quite about Allen's history, especially given the new vehemence with which they are working to support women who suffer from assault outside of the industry. (#TIMESUP). While many women are quick to denounce Harvey Weinstein and other famous and powerful men, the conversation has largely spared Allen — with many actors actively dodging the subject — as Dylan Farrow pointed out in a 2016 piece for the LA Times.
Hopefully, this will change and more actors will join Sorvino and Gerwig join Ellen Page in the ranks of thse publicly regretting their choice to work with Allen, and denounce Allen in the process. Their statements show a similar hope for the industry's future; even if they can’t change the past, they sure as hell can change the future, working to exile Allen and other vile men from the industry and replacing them with visionary women.
top photo: Intruders/BBC
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Sarah C. Epstein is a writer and creator living in NYC. In her free time she enjoys eating berries, reflecting on her dreams, and hanging out with her pet snake, Sydney. Find her online at cricketepstein.com.