Soon-Yi Previn, wife of filmmaker Woody Allen, has weighed in on the controversy surrounding her husband and his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow and ex-partner Mia Farrow in a story published online Sunday (Sept. 16) on New York Magazine’s website Vulture.
“I was never interested in writing a Mommie Dearest, getting even with Mia — none of that,” Previn said in the story. “But what’s happened to Woody is so upsetting, so unjust. [Mia] has taken advantage of the #MeToo movement and paraded Dylan as a victim. And a whole new generation is hearing about it when they shouldn’t.”
Dylan told Vulture in a statement that any implication she was manipulated by mom Mia was “offensive.”
“This only serves to revictimize me,” Dylan said. “Thanks to my mother, I grew up in a wonderful home.”
Dylan’s brother Ronan, one of her strongest supporters, issued the following statement in response to the story: “I owe everything I am to Mia Farrow. She is a devoted mom who went through hell for her family all while creating a loving home for us. But that has never stopped Woody Allen and his allies from planting stories that attack and vilify my mother to deflect from my sister’s credible allegation of abuse. As a brother and a son, I’m angry that New York Magazine would participate in this kind of a hit job, written by a longtime admirer and friend of Woody Allen’s. As a journalist, I’m shocked by the lack of care for the facts, the refusal to include eyewitness testimony that would contradict falsehoods in this piece, and the failure to include my sister’s complete responses. Survivors of abuse deserve better.”
The Vulture story was written by Daphne Merkin, who notes in the piece that she’s been friends with Allen for more than 40 years. An online search yields several stories detailing her close relationship with the filmmaker over the years, noting on her website that her first fan letter was from Allen, telling the New York Times that he once offered her his therapist and telling the New York Post that they “share our Holocaust books.” She also gushes over Allen in her book The Fame Lunches, noting that she wrote him a letter in her early 20s and that “I had fixed on [Allen] as my alter ego” and that “he was the perfect non-celebrity for a non-groupie like me.”
Dylan also tweeted out a lengthy statement in response to the story:
My statement on New York Magazine: pic.twitter.com/xml6pdaZqb
— Dylan Farrow (@RealDylanFarrow) September 17, 2018
New York Magazine spokesperson Lauren Starke defended the story earlier in the day, saying: “Soon-Yi Previn is telling her story for the first time, and we hope people will withhold judgment until they have read the feature. Daphne Merkin’s relationship to Woody Allen is disclosed and is a part of the story, as is Soon-Yi’s reason for speaking out now. I would add that Daphne approached Soon-Yi about doing this piece, not vice-versa. We reached out to both Mia and Dylan Farrow for comment; Dylan chose to speak through her representative. The story is transparent about being told from Soon-Yi’s point of view.”
Later Sunday, Starke added: “This is a story about Soon-Yi Previn, and puts forward her perspective on what happened in her family. We believe she is entitled to be heard. Daphne Merkin’s relationship to Woody Allen is disclosed and is a part of the story, as is Soon-Yi’s reason for speaking out now. We hope people will read it for themselves.”
In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times in December, Dylan accused Allen of sexually molesting her as a child. Allen has denied those claims and an investigation in 1993 found that he had not sexually assaulted her. But at a 1993 custody ruling, a judge said that while “we will probably never know what occurred on August 4, 1992 … Mr. Allen’s behavior toward Dylan was grossly inappropriate and … measures must be taken to protect her.” Dylan was removed from Allen’s custody.
In May, Allen’s adoptive son Moses defended Allen against Dylan’s allegations and claimed their mother, Mia, was physically and emotionally abusive. Previn has also claimed that Mia was abusive.
Dylan’s brother Ronan then came to his mom Mia’s defense on social media, writing: “Not worth saying much to dignify the repeated campaign to discredit my sister, often by attacking our mother. This happens every time Dylan speaks, so this is all I’ll offer: My mother did an extraordinary job raising us, and none of my siblings with whom I’ve spoken ever witnessed anything but love and care from a single mom who went through hell to keep her kids safe.”
Allen and many other of his family supporters claim that Mia manipulated Dylan into making false sexual assault allegations as payback. Previn, who was adopted by Farrow and then-husband Andre Previn in 1978, began a romantic relationship with Allen in 1991. At the time, Allen was still in a long-term relationship with Farrow. Soon-Yi and Allen later married in 1997.
“I am a pariah,” Allen told Vulture. “People think that I was Soon-Yi’s father, that I raped and married my underaged, retarded daughter.” He added that the couple’s contribution to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was returned. Previn went into depth about her relationship with Allen and history with Mia in the Vulture story.
Previn claims that she and Mia were “like oil and water” from the beginning. “Mia wasn’t maternal to me from the get-go,” she said. She claimed that Mia’s first attempt at bathing Previn didn’t go well.
“I’d never taken a bath by myself, because in the orphanage it was a big tub and we all got in it,” Previn said. “Here, it was for a single person, and I was scared to get in the water by myself. So instead of doing what you would do with an infant — you know, maybe get into the water, put some toys in, put your arm in to show that you’re fine, it’s not dangerous — she just kind of threw me in.”
She also claimed there was a “hierarchy” among Mia’s children: “She didn’t try to hide it, and Fletcher was the star, the golden child. Mia always valued intelligence and also looks, blond hair and blue eyes.” Previn alleged that Mia tried teaching her the alphabet and got impatient to the point of throwing wooden blocks “at me or down on the floor. Who can learn under that pressure?”
Previn also claimed that Mia would write words on her arm to help her learn them or “tip me upside down, holding me by my feet, to get the blood to drain to my head. Because she thought — or she read it, God knows where she came up with the notion — that blood going to my head would make me smarter or something.”
Previn also alleged that Mia would slap her face, spank her with a hairbrush, throw objects at her and call her “stupid” and “moronic.” She also said that she and her adopted sisters were treated like “domestics,” doing the grocery shopping, cleaning, ironing and other chores. Asked if she has any positive memories of living with Mia, Previn said: “It seems hard to imagine, but I really can’t come up with one.”
Previn also goes into detail on how she began her relationship with Allen, noting that they were both consenting adults (she was 21). She said she never thought of Allen as a father figure — Andre served that purpose, in her mind — and actually thought he was a “major loser” due to the fact that Mia proposed marriage just weeks after they began dating and then two weeks later told him she wanted to have a child with him.
The two first interacted in a friendly capacity when she broke her ankle in 11th grade and he was helpful in taking care of her. But it wasn’t until she was a freshman at college that they began their affair. “We talked quite a bit,” she explained, “and to the best of my memory I came in from college on some holiday and he showed me a Bergman movie, which I believe was The Seventh Seal, but I’m not positive. We chatted about it, and I must have been impressive because he kissed me and I think that started it. We were like two magnets, very attracted to each other.”
She added: “I wasn’t the one who went after Woody — where would I get the nerve? He pursued me. That’s why the relationship has worked: I felt valued. It’s quite flattering for me. He’s usually a meek person, and he took a big leap.”
Mia eventually learned of their affair when she found nude photos of Previn.
“I remember the phone call when she found the photos,” Previn said. “I picked up the phone and Mia said, ‘Soon-Yi.’ That’s all she needed to say, in that chilling tone of voice. I knew my life was over and that she knew, just by the way she said my name. When she came home, she asked me about it, and I — survival instinct — denied it. And then she said, ‘I have photos.’ So I knew I was trapped. Of course, she slapped me, you know the way of things. And then she called everyone. She didn’t contain the situation; she just spread it like wildfire, and then she was screaming at Woody when he came over. Meanwhile, Dylan and Satchel [Ronan] are living under her roof and they are very small, 6 and 4 years old. They hear their mother going crazy, screaming in the middle of the night for hours.”
Previn and Allen claimed that Mia was claiming that Previn was threatening suicide, which Previn said was a lie.
Allen’s sister, Letty Aronson, claimed to Vulture that Mia told her around the time that she discovered Allen and Previn were having an affair: “‘He took my daughter, I’m going to take his.’ I said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. [Dylan] loves Woody. A child should have a father.’ She said, ‘I don’t care.'”
Meanwhile, Dylan late Sunday tweeted a statement on behalf of her and several of her siblings defending and standing behind Mia:
I’m grateful to my siblings for standing by me and my mother. Statement from Matthew Previn, Sascha Previn, Fletcher Previn, Daisy Previn, Ronan Farrow, Isaiah Farrow, and Quincy Farrow: pic.twitter.com/aBjWFUJjdH
— Dylan Farrow (@RealDylanFarrow) September 17, 2018
Mia is not quoted in the story, and Andre declined comment. The Allen sexual assault scandal heated up after The Hollywood Reporter published a cover story on Allen in May 2016 and gained steam amid the #MeToo movement late last year. After THR posted its cover story, Dylan’s brother Ronan Farrow wrote about the scandal for THR and the media’s lack of attention to it.
Ronan went on to publish exposés of Harvey Weinstein and Leslie Moonves, alleging histories of sexual harassment and assault, leading to both executives’ ousters.
Meanwhile, Allen also addressed rumors in the Vulture story that Ronan is the son of Mia’s ex-husband Frank Sinatra, something Mia has not confirmed or denied. “In my opinion, he’s my child,” Allen said. “I think he is, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. I paid for child support for him for his whole childhood, and I don’t think that’s very fair if he’s not mine. Also she represented herself as a faithful person, and she certainly wasn’t. Whether she actually became pregnant in an affair she had …”
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.