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Burning Question: Why Are So Many Actors Willing to Work With Woody Allen?

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Cate Blanchett, Woody Allen, and Alec Baldwin on the set of 'Blue Jasmine' (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Classics)

Why are so many actors willing to work with Woody Allen while abuse allegations continue from family members?

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Since when does Hollywood care about allegations? Heck, many of them don’t even care about all-out convictions; stars such as Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, and Kim Cattrall have had no problem working with court-certified sex abuser Roman Polanski. I can't even count how many musicians have lined up to work with Chris Brown since he admitted to assaulting Rihanna.

So now that Woody Allen's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, is saying — on the New York Times' website, mind you — that the film auteur "sexually assaulted me," will that act as a deterrent to actors who would otherwise clamor to be in one of his films? Probably not. (Incidentally, through a spokesperson, Allen called Farrow's open letter "untrue and disgraceful." The charges of abuse first came to light during divorce hearings between Allen and Mia Farrow in 1992.)

[Related: Woody Allen Abuse Scandal: How We Got Here]

Yes: In Hollywood, reputation, and the reputations of one's co-workers, is important. But it's not nearly as important as, say, going to the Oscars, or reinventing oneself as a serious thespian, or getting the opportunity to share a frame with the biggest actors on the planet.

Here's why:

1. Allen grants actors immortality. It's no small matter that Allen does not suck as a director. Film historians know this. Film schools know this. Actors who want their work remembered for longer than eight seconds know this, and therefore gravitate toward directors whose projects stand the test of time.

One such great director is Martin Scorsese, whose godlike reputation spurred "The Wolf of Wall Street" actor Jonah Hill to take a tiny salary just to work with him.

Allen, for better or worse, is another; you may believe what Dylan Farrow has said about her father, or you may not, but if you haven’t seen "Annie Hall," you’re not a student of film.

"If you do a good job in a Woody Allen movie, people are going to take you seriously," says a friend of an actor who worked with Allen multiple times. "The business doesn't take anything Woody does lightly. He's treated as if he were the second coming in the artsy world."

[Related: Woody Allen's allies cast doubt on abuse claims]

2. Conveniently for Hollywood, Allen has never been convicted. That allows actors such as Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin to file the Allen accusations under "Matters, Private" instead of "Matters, Public" and wash their hands of the whole issue.

"It's obviously been a long and painful situation for the family and I hope they find some sort of resolution and peace," Blanchett told blogger Jeffrey Wells.

And Alec Baldwin has expressed similar sentiment on Twitter.

"What the f&@% is wrong w u that u think we all need to b commenting on this family's personal struggle?" he told one fan. "You are mistaken if you think there is a place for me, or any outsider, in this family's issue."

Baldwin also retweeted a sentiment he presumably shares:

To another, the actor wrote: "So you know who's guilty? Who's lying? You, personally, know that?"

[Related: Woody Allen's Son Slams Him During the Globes, Mia Farrow Joins in the Jeers]

3. Hollywood. Walk onto any major film set, and I guarantee you’ll be standing within 20 feet of a genuine creep — someone who is verbally abusive (or worse); someone with reprehensible habits in the bedroom, boardroom or bathroom; someone who has committed crimes and had them swept under a deep carpet crafted out of threat letters from lawyers and publicists; someone whose entourage is so obnoxious it needs to be collectively lit on fire. Successful actors know this. And — right or wrong — most see no reason to blow off one director when there are dozens of others who have VIP booths in hell waiting for them.

In other words, says my insider, "I don’t know what Woody Allen did or didn't do, but he is not the first person to do or not do it."

4. Awards. Awards. Awards. Allen has been nominated 24 times for Academy Awards. And while he may like to blow off the Oscars, his talent doesn't. In fact, his talent tends to win. It's well known that Penelope Cruz did some of the best work of her career in "Vicky Christina Barcelona," a role that won her a little golden bald man of her own. Diane Keaton owes her Oscar to "Annie Hall." Ditto with Dianne Weist's two Oscars ("Hannah and her Sisters" and "Bullets Over Broadway") and Mira Sorvino's first and only ("Mighty Aphrodite").

So if Allen comes calling, the friend of Allen's cast member tells me, "actors are thinking, 'It's Woody Motherf---ing Allen and I'm going to get an Oscar."

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Leslie Gornstein is an entertainment writer and the host of the weekly Hollywood gossip podcast The Fame Fatale.

 

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