Woody Allen offered a window into his relationship with Soon-Ti Previn in a recent interview, revealing that he has enjoyed being something of a guide to his much younger wife.

Woody Allen On Soon-Yi

Allen and Soon-Yi’s marital relationship has long been a subject of controversy. Not only is there the vast age difference – he’s 80, she’s 45 – he was also once thought to be her primary father-figure. Allen met Previn when she was just a child while he was dating Mia Farrow, Previn’s adoptive mother. It was only when Farrow, 10 years into her relationship with the director, found nude pictures of Previn in Allen’s possession that they split. At the time, Previn was 21, and not long after that, Allen went public with their relationship. They were married in 1997.

When asked about what Previn has changed about him, Allen instead shared that what he’s enjoyed most about his relationship with her is what he’s been able to add to her life.

“She had a very, very difficult upbringing in Korea: She was an orphan on the streets, living out of trash cans and starving as a 6-year-old. And she was picked up and put in an orphanage. And so I’ve been able to really make her life better,” Allen explained to The Hollywood Reporter. “I provided her with enormous opportunities, and she has sparked to them. She’s educated herself and has tons of friends and children and got a college degree and went to graduate school, and she has traveled all over with me now. She’s very sophisticated and has been to all the great capitals of Europe. She has just become a different person. So the contributions I’ve made to her life have given me more pleasure than all my films.”

Allen went on to laud Previn for her companionship and for giving him a “stable and wonderful home life.” As for what she’s changed about him, Allen still couldn’t find an answer, believing that it’s very well possible that he’s just the same man that he was at 20.

“I mean, I seem to have the same habits, the same work habits, the same phobias, the same enjoyments. I don’t think I have changed much over the years at all,” Allen said. “When you mention it, I try and think about the ways [I’ve changed]. I don’t know if I’ve changed much.”

Allen’s recent statements about Previn echo the sentiments he shared last summer – which have marked a departure from past comments from both Allen and Previn that have aimed to present their relationship as something far removed from that between a father and a daughter.

“The age difference didn’t seem to matter. It seemed to work in our favor actually,” Allen told NPR in July 2015 about the relationship that started when he was in his late 50s and Previn in her early 20s. “She enjoyed being introduced to many, many things that I knew from experience, and I enjoyed showing her those things.”

“I’m 35 years older, and somehow, through no fault of mine or hers, the dynamic worked. I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal,” Allen added. “I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me, and I was happy to give her an enormous amount of decision making just as a gift and let her take charge of so many things.”

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