CLASSIC
Armando Gallo - HFPA

HFPA Honors Woody Allen at New York Reception

“I saw the Ten Commandments and I feel that I live up to at least two of them,” jokes writer/director/actor/legend Woody Allen when talking about Cecil B. De Mille, the legendary director who lent his name to the life achievement award which he will receive on January 12, 2014 during the upcoming Golden Globes. The HFPA met Woody Allen at a reception the association held in his honor on December 6 at New York’s London Hotel. Usually shy when it comes to honors, Allen confesses how this particular award from the Hollywood Foreign Press pleases him: “I like the people of the Golden Globes,” he said. “I meet so many interviewers, and so many of the press people I meet are so pretentious, so intellectual and so serious. The Golden Globes people are always at ease, I feel like I am at a bar mitzvah in a Jewish family, they are so easy going, so relaxed, I don’t take them seriously and they don’t take me seriously. I feel I can say anything I want and they laugh, they can say anything to me: that’s the reason I meet with them because I enjoy the people.” Receiving an award, however, is another matter: “I never put any thoughts on awards,” he says. “Awards are arbitrary. The journalists from the HFPA like me, and I like them very much, so they are kind to me. But there’s a hundred people that deserve to be honored and the same award could be given to them just as easily. You should never think that because you receive an award you deserve it.”

Allen is back in New York after another busy year of acting and directing: following the success of Blue Jasmine starring Cate Blanchett he shot his new as of yet untitled movie in the summer in the South of France, with Colin Firth and Emma Stone, and accepted a role as an actor in John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo, playing “ a pimp” to Turturro’s titular gigolo who entertains such clients as Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara. “John is a wonderful actor, a very good director and a terrific guy,” says Allen. “I have seen the picture, and it is very pretty, he did a very good job in directing me. As for my character, I of course was brilliant, I made a major contribution to it!”

At 78, Woody Allen never loses his sense of humor. He apologizes for being an hour late for our chat: “I love where I live, but when you are a few blocks from the tree at Rockefeller Center during this season traffic is fatal”, he observes and then compliments himself: “I am getting older and of course my movies get better, but I don’t look any older: look at me, I am 78 years old, I have never had anything done to me and still look this way!” Age, however, didn’t make his most recent movie easy to shoot: “We were all over the South of France, my family had a great summer but for me it was difficult because every time I went to a location it was far, I had to drive along a winding road; at least the view was so pretty all the time!”

Allen generously shared the filmmaking wisdom he has acquired on his way to becoming a true American original: “If you have a bad script you can be Fellini or Kurosawa and you will have a bad movie. If you have a good script you can be a mediocre director but you will have a decent movie. I write my own movies, and when they are good it means I have written a good script, I can direct it and the actors are always good. But if I have written a bad script I can work and work, the actors can be great, but I won’t have a good movie.”

Another Allen’s rule is never doing a sequel of his movies: “I don’t even like the idea of doing a musical of Bullets over Broadway,” he says, referring to the Susan Stroman’s production currently in preproduction, “because I have done it already. I did the adaptation but other than that I am doing as little as possible and I leave it all to Susan. Once I worked on something I don’t ever like to touch it again, or even look at it again, it’s a big mistake!

Silvia Bizio