Is Woody Allen's time up?
With a new film on the horizon, a growing chorus of actors are distancing themselves from the director
Timothée Chalamet, the breakout young actor who won acclaim for his roles in Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird, says he was only following in the footsteps of his role models when he accepted a role in Woody Allen's upcoming film, A Rainy Day In New York.
But now he's joining his castmate Rebecca Hall and donating his earnings from the film to charity in light of allegations of sexual misconduct against Allen. While those accusations first surfaced in the early 1990s, they've resurfaced as the #MeToo movement gathers momentum, and actors are being questioned for their decision to work with Allen.
Chalamet announced via an Instagram post that he would be donating his salary to charities that fight sexual harassment and abuse and support LGBTQ rights.
"I have been asked in a few recent interviews about my decision to work on a film with Woody Allen last summer," he wrote. "I'm not able to answer the question directly because of contractual obligations. But what I can say is this: I don't want to profit from my work on the film, and to that end, I am going to donate my entire salary to three charities: TIME'S UP, The LGBT Center in New York, and RAINN [Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network]. I want to be worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with the brave artists who are fighting for all people to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve."
Chalamet's comments reflect a sea change in Hollywood following the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and come shortly after a Golden Globes ceremony that was dominated by the #MeToo and Time's Up movements. As a result, a growing number of high-profile stars are moving away from Allen who, in an interview with the BBC, said it was important to avoid a "witch hunt atmosphere" in the aftermath of Weinstein.
For a long time, starring in an Allen film was a stepping stone for actors on the rise, but that time could be coming to an end as actors are being called out on their decision to work with him.
"This year has changed the way I see and feel about so many things; it has been a thrilling and, at times, enlightening education," Chalamet wrote. "I have, to this point, chosen projects from the perspective of a young actor trying to walk in the footsteps of more seasoned actors I admire. But I am learning that a good role isn't the only criteria for accepting a job."
Late last year, Ellen Page, who starred in To Rome with Love, addressed this well-trodden path to success in a lengthy Facebook post calling the role the "biggest regret" of her life. "I had yet to find my voice and was not who I am now and felt pressured, because 'of course you have to say yes to this Woody Allen film,'" she wrote.
Rebecca Hall, who previously worked with Allen on Vicky Cristina Barcelona, announced last week on Instagram that she would donate her Rainy Day salary to Time's Up.
"I regret this decision [to work with Allen] and wouldn't make the same one today," she wrote, directly referencing a recent op ed in the LA Times written by Dylan Farrow. Farrow has long accused Allen, her adoptive father, of sexual abuse — she also wrote an open letter to the New York Times in 2014 laying out the allegations — and called out actors who continue to work with him.
"We are in the midst of a revolution," wrote Farrow. "But the revolution has been selective."
In the LA Times op-ed, Farrow also singled out Kate Winslet, Blake Lively and Greta Gerwig for working with him, as well as journalists who "tend to avoid the subject."
Previously, Blake Lively argued in favour of separating the art from the artist. "It's very dangerous to factor in things you don't know anything about," she said in a 2016 LA Times interview. "My experience with Woody is he's empowering to women."
Winslet, who appeared in Allen's 2017 film Wonder Wheel, had a similar response. "As the actor in the film, you just have to step away and say, I don't know anything, really, and whether any of it is true or false," she told the New York Times.
It's an approach that, on the surface, distances the actor from the actions of the people they choose to work with, and one that has also been used by Justin Timberlake and Selena Gomez who, when asked about working with Allen, chose to not address his personal life. Others go as far as Alec Baldwin, who tweeted today that it was "unfair and sad" to see actors distancing themselves from Allen.
But Gerwig says her stance has shifted with time, and she firmly believes that, while you can be influenced by someone's early work, you can still choose to hold them accountable as you grow and learn.
"I can only speak for myself and what I've come to is this: 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 realise that I had increased another woman's pain, and I was heartbroken by that realisation," she recently said in a New York Times op-ed. "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."
While it's been five years since Gerwig appeared in a film by Allen, giving her plenty of time to think about it, his current cast are very much learning to deal with it in real time.