'It would take a lot to offend me,' Woody Allen says of Laurent Lafitte's rape joke at Cannes
Earlier, Ronan Farrow posted essay reiterated sexual abuse allegations against his father
Though Woody Allen says he wasn't upset by a controversial joke made at his expense on the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival, the evening's host says he would have cut it had he understood the context surrounding the American filmmaker.
Allen's latest, Café Society, landed the glitzy French festival's opening night slot and screened on Wednesday.
Veteran French actor Laurent Lafitte — the evening's master of ceremonies — quipped that Allen has "been shooting so many of your films here in Europe and yet in the U.S. you haven't even been convicted for rape."
He made the comment prior to the film's official screening, during an irreverent presentation that included a lengthy kiss with iconic actress Catherine Deneuve, rallying comments referencing the Paris attacks and a tribute to music legend Prince.
The Allen comment, which referenced filmmaker Roman Polanski's exile from the U.S., drew gasps from the audience, which included Allen's Café Society stars Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg and Blake Lively.
Earlier in the day — and unbeknownst to Lafitte — Allen's son Ronan Farrow had published a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter blasting "the culture of acquiescence" surrounding his famed father amid his sister's allegations of sexual abuse.
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Lafitte, a well-known actor within France, told The Hollywood Reporter that he had written the joke weeks ago and not known the context surrounding Allen.
"When I wrote this joke, it was more a joke about Europe and why one of the greatest American directors spent years in Europe, because he didn't have to because he wasn't accused of rape in his own country, compared to Roman Polanski," he said.
"It was [meant] as joke about American puritanism and the fact that it is surprising that an American director wants to do so many movies in Europe."
Likening the outrage at the joke as "a storm in a teacup," Lafitte lamented that "in a show lasting 45 minutes, this is the only thing that will remain."
Takes 'a lot to offend' Allen
For his part, Allen said he was not offended by Lafitte's mocking.
"I am completely in favour of comedians making any jokes they want," the director told Variety during a Cannes press luncheon on Thursday.
"I am a non-judgmental or [non]-censorship person on jokes. I'm a comic myself and I feel they should be free to make whatever jokes they want.
"It would take a lot to offend me," Allen added.
He also responded to another reporter that he had not and would not read his son's column, saying he never reads anything written about him.