Seven Interviews with Woody Allen
–Woody Allen has been in six cities in the last three weeks. He is tired and lonely and anxious to go home. But before this can happen, he has to run the London media gauntlet.
He must attend receptions for the press where there are free drinks and a bunch of fresh bananas on each table and talk to ladies who write for the women’s page. He must do radio interviews, appear on TV talk shows and deal with an earnest crewcut Japanese reporter who speaks no English but has a pretty girl interpreter along who insists on snapping pictures of the two together for her scrapbook (the reporter beaming; Woody staring.)
If he lives through it all, Woody Allen gets to fly back to New York City and start work on his next film and all of it gradually will come to be no more than a blurred memory of tape recorder microphones being waved at him and people scribbling away in notebooks every time he opens his mouth to speak.
Should he, however, die in the process, well … at least it’ll be publicity for Bananas, the commodity being marketed.
“Woody Allen,” a radio interviewer says into his microphone, “You’re a film director, a musician, a scriptwriter, an actor, and a comedian … which of these roles do you prefer?”
“Yes,” Woody says succinctly.
“Yes which?”, the interviewer asks, eyeing his precious tape time rolling away.
“Yes, all of them. Whichever one I’m not doing.”
“I, ah see. And how do you get your ideas?”
“They come to me all at once,” Woody says, completely deadpan, like a highly intelligent mouse talking to the cat in a Disney cartoon. “I see the opening credits unfold and then the first scene … and then the rest of it.”
“You mean you see all of it at once?”
“How long does that take?”
“In the case of Bananas, eighty-two minutes.”
“All of it at once?” the interviewer asks, incredulous.
“Yes,” Woody says.
“You’re not sending me up, are you?”
“No,” Woody says seriously, “Not at all.”
* * *
In his green carpeted suite at the Dorchester Hotel, Woody Allen is sitting quietly on a large couch awaiting the next interviewer. His press lady is on the phone trying to find him a late night flight back to New York. Charlie Joffee, Woody’s friend and business partner and the executive producer of Bananas is prowling around, chewing on one of the Bolivar Habana cigars he wears in the corner of his mouth, looking out windows.
Woody is wearing his basic outfit for the week, worn bellbottom jeans with a dark blue patch on the ass, a quiet plaid sports jacket, and black and white saddle shoes. His red hair is long in the back, it whirls out over his collar from around a central bald spot. With his freckles and horn rimmed glasses, he looks like he could be an entering freshman at some great midwestern university. He’s 35.
“I hope all this sells the picture,” Charlie grumbles from around his cigar.
“It won’t, Charlie, it won’t,” Woody says quietly, “It won’t make any difference at all.”
“Three weeks we’re having this argument,” Charlie tells the room, in an aggravated voice. He sighs. “Three weeks. And I’m starting to think maybe he’s right.”
“You’re often portrayed as a loser in your films, Woody … Are you?”
“I was. Now, I’m a winner.”
“It’s a strange story,” Woody says, shifting into total fiction, “I was originally the son of a Presbyterian minister. Then I became an atheist. It might seem strange but two years ago I found religion again … Judaism.”
“How did that come about?”
“Well, it’s a difficult story to tell, I ran into some Jews … and they seemed happy … so I took on a Hebrew name, Yitzhak.”
“And how do you spell that exactly?”
* * *