Cate Blanchett Caught in the Woody Allen Crossfire

Cate Blanchett
J Carter Rinaldi/FilmMagic

With Oscar voting scheduled to begin next Friday, the 1992 accusations of molestation against “Blue Jasmine” director Woody Allen couldn’t have resurfaced at a worse time.

The Sony Classics feature is nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Original Screenplay (Allen) and Best Supporting Actress (Sally Hawkins), leaving several pundits asking whether awards voters will opt against the accused filmmaker and his leading ladies. The short answer? Probably not. Still, the Woody Allen controversy underlines the fact that Hollywood awards, and the ensuing global attention, can push a lot of buttons and stir up discussions that can be enlightening, distressing, or both.

Considering the claims of molestation, questions about something like an Academy Award may seem trivial and disrespectful. But in fact, awards have been a key element of this week’s discussion as 28-year-old Dylan Farrow, in her open letter published by the N.Y. Times, addressed the anguish she felt at Allen’s Golden Globe honor and Oscar original-screenplay nomination. She also wondered how some people  could in good conscience work with Allen, pointing the finger at six celebrities, including Cate Blanchett, who recently won a Golden Globe for her acclaimed performance.

Let’s make something very clear: Blanchett should not be part of this discussion. This is obviously a painful family situation but Blanchett is simply an actress who worked with a filmmaker who was never charged with a crime. Legally, she and everyone else associated with “Jasmine” did nothing wrong. But the Internet and op-ed pieces prove that this is not a legal argument, but an emotional one.

Many in the Court of Public Opinion believe Allen is guilty. By reading the relentless opinions on the Web, it’s easy to believe the entire world is engaged in a heated Woody Allen discussion. And since the Internet didn’t really exist in 1992, you get the feeling that people have been bottling up their reactions to this for a long time. But the Internet doesn’t always reflect the preoccupations of everyone in the world, including Academy voters.

Some have cited the fact that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences gave an Oscar to Roman Polanski for 2002’s “The Pianist.” Could the same happen for Allen? It’s a limited comparison but an interesting point: Allen was never charged, but Polanski WAS charged and served some time but fled the country before he could be sentenced. Academy voters ultimately proved they were willing to cast ballots for Polanski’s achievement in directing, not for the person.

Also, Oscar voters probably decided a long time ago what they think of Allen. Awards screeners were sent in December and he and Sally Hawkins (up for supporting actress) are not generally considered front-runners. But Blanchett IS, having won every award in the book. She may lose a few votes for guilt by association. She may win a few votes for sympathy. But Academy voters will likely cast ballots in every category based on the work, not on outside considerations, so Blanchett should undoubtedly emerge OK..

The Oscar-winning actress has no doubt had a tough week, however. She attended the funeral of friend and colleague Philip Seymour Hoffman (they both appeared in the 1999 “The Talented Mr. Ripley”) on Friday and had to cancel appearances on several TV talk shows to promote “The Monuments Men,” which opens Friday. Before then, she handled herself quite well, deflecting questions about Allen by reminding that this is a family matter. The TV cancellations were the right move. It would be disingenuous to talk about “Monuments Men” and ignore Allen and Hoffman. On the other hand, it would be tough to talk about complex issues in fast sound bites before the commercial break.

It will also be interesting to see how Acad voters respond to Denmark’s foreign-language entry. “The Hunt” (starring an excellent Mads Mikkelsen) is a thoughtful and troubling film about a man who is ostracized after he’s accused of molesting a young girl.

Molestation can push people’s buttons more than most other crimes. Farrow’s pain seems genuine. But under U.S. law, a man is innocent if he’s never been charged. So come to your own conclusions about what did or did not happen in 1992. Like most people, I have theories, but few facts. So this is not the time nor place to add guesswork.

Like it or not, awards, particularly Oscar, are part of our civilization’s current mythology. The nominees, the ceremony, the global attention: All can touch nerves, and people can channel their hopes and anxieties through these events. In some cases, that’s a good thing. At other times, it brings up a range of darker emotions.

This might be the last Big Talking Point associated with Oscar this season. But in the past, a lot of hot-button issues have surfaced in the week leading up to Oscar, so fasten your seat belts. We still have a ways to go before that final envelope is opened March 2.

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  1. SS says:

    While I don’t want to insinuate that everyone should just determine that Allen is guilty, because there is a legal procedure, there actually are facts out there that detail the legal procedure back in the early 90s. So maybe as a journalist, you should do some research. But I get the sense that this would condemn an artist who you clearly like, so I don’t think I should expect that to happen.
    FYI, I like Allen’s work too, but I did research the facts before blasting my opinion online.

    • timgray2013 says:

      FYI, it’s insulting to tell me I need to do research. I DID research. Don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions about me, and don’t be quick to come to conclusions about this whole case. Yes, there are facts out there…but there are facts to back up both sides. A judge clearly believed Dylan Farrow. But there was a six-month investigation and there were no charges filed. In the U.S. a person is innocent until proven guilty. And Allen was never charged, much less found guilty. My point, if you actually read the entire column (and I’m not sure you did), is that whatever you believe happened in 1992, it has nothing to do with Cate Blanchett, since she was an actress working with a man who was never charged. I just want fairness in the voting, and don’t want Academy voters to “make a statement” with their vote.

  2. FusterCluck says:

    I’m rooting for Judi Dench.

  3. Joel says:

    Yes, one is fiction but the character also was held in “high suspicion of being a child molester.” But the crux of the film is about those around the main character and their willingness and eagerness to judge.

  4. nimportequoi says:

    Difference between the Hunt and Woody Allen is not Woody is not a fictional character and holds high suspicion of being a child molester.

  5. Joel says:

    P.S. And yes…everyone pointing fingers should see “The Hunt” (it’s on disc, VOD, and Netflix)

  6. gdh says:

    I don’t believe Cate Blanchett- as Best Actress nominee- has anything to worry about? it would be another category, such as Lifetime Achievement Award, or Best Director.. that, potentially, might be affected, IF..

  7. Joel says:

    A quick addendum to what I wrote. The other child I mentioned (Ronan?) bears a strong resemblance to Farrow’s previous husband Frank Sinatra. (By the way, the age difference between Farrow and Sinatra was about the same as Allen’s and Soon-Yi’s. Pot. Kettle. Black.). Even Farrow is now saying that Sinatra may be Ronan’s dad, which belies all previous claims that it was Woody’s. So we’re still supposed to believe her claims against Allen? I don’t think so.

    • facts! says:

      PS Joel: Here’s some well-researched facts for you from VF and Maureen Orth. Perhaps Mia Farrow had good reason to sleep with someone else.

      http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2014/02/woody-allen-sex-abuse-10-facts

      • facts! says:

        Excuse me, but the VF piece (and the judge’s report linked at the bottom) are full of yes, the judge’s opinion, but also facts. Voice of Reason (are you?), there are legal excerpts in this report, have you read it?

      • Joel says:

        Agree with Voice of Reason. One judge’s outside-the-court opinion does not a fact make. Nor does a comedian making jokes. Bad taste, maybe. But one could say the same about ANY comedian making politically-incorrect remarks. And it’s interesting that a 35 year age difference matters with Allen/Soon-Yi but the 30-year age difference between Farrow and Sinatra getting married is no big deal? Anyway, “doubts” are not the same as knowledge or facts. Whatever one might say, the VF article is filled with suppositions. But the facts (at least as we know them officially) back up Allen. Oh and by the way, have we ever heard Farrow say anything about the man who made her famous (Roman Polanski) who was convicted and had to leave the country?. Regardless, I do not judge as I was not there. But unlike most of America, I do still believe in innocent-until-proven guilty. NOT innocent-until-assumed guilty.

      • Voice of Reason says:

        Why is EVERY Farrow supporter using a Vanity Fair article from 20 years ago like it’s a police report?

  8. Joel says:

    To Monique and all others so eagerly casting the first stone at Allen, one of the other children (who was there on the say in question) has publicly stated that Dylan’s claim is NOT true. And that Farrow was the abusive one…in fact they lived in fear of her. And that she consistently tried to engender hate for Allen to the children. Given the time passed and the timing of Dylan’s assertation, this sounds more like a still-angry jilted lover exacting her “Hell hath no fury…” options. I find it interesting that so many people who know nothing about the personal lives of Allen/Farrow are so eager to condemn. I certainly was not there and don’t know what actually occurred. But given the comments from some of the other kids as well as the legal vetting that had been done, I’m not going to castigate Allen when all other indications show he is telling the truth.

    • facts! says:

      All indications show this?? But Woody Allen is a man who has made public jokes about being found in a love nest with 12-year-old girls (see below for that comment), married his step-daughter 35 years to whom he had acted as a father figure, and who was observed by a caretaker nestling his head in Dylan’s lap, after which she was discovered to not be wearing panties (see TheDailyMail.com, which yesterday, re-posted the original judge’s observations from the early 90s.) You don’t have to know much about their personal lives to know that he’s got issues. Not saying Mia Farrow doesn’t, but it doesn’t seem that her issues are quite on the same scary level. Additionally, you say that Farrow’s being with Sinatra “belies all previous claims against Woody.” But they’re Dylan’s claims, which you seem to forget. And were hers from the beginning.

      • obloodyhell says:

        Lacking links, it’s impossible to determine who actually said what, and to challenge any of it. Feel free to post links to your assertions’ source… then we can decide for ourselves if your notes have merit.

  9. Voice of Reason says:

    Why anyone had to drag Cate Blanchette into this I will never understand. It’s not as if Mia Farrow ever called out Roman Polanski or anyone who ever worked with him. She has been silent on that subject for years. Unless I somehow missed the day she called out the man who made her career.

    I think the woman Roman Polanski raped said it best, to paraphrase, it’s important for an abuse victim to share their story and it’s also important not to assume someone is automatically guilty. For commenters like Monique to say we all need therapy when she has no idea what actually happened and has never met any of these people already shows what kind of poison they have ALL brought to bare on this. The entire family on both sides demand we all get involved in this spectacle and it’s time to say enough is enough.

    They’ve all aired their grievances in public and now it’s time for them to move this to a more private space. Hire lawyers, call the police, get some therapists involved, something more productive than continually fighting this war in public and asking us all to take a side. We could spend the next year being subjected to this sad saga. There are no winners here. Only severely damaged people all have fighting a war that will never be proven either way.

  10. Monique says:

    Tim Gray, Cate Blanchett and the rest of the Woody Allen supporters need professional help…. very disgusting your support of a child molester…

    • cadavra says:

      Show me one actual, concrete piece of evidence that Allen molested her and I will agree with you. Until then, STFU.

    • sheila says:

      monique, cate blanchett simply stated it is a family matter. it seems to me that blanchett is an actress that worked with allen, as has so many others since this story came out more than 20 yrs ago. it seems to me blanchett is staying neutral in this matter. unfortunately, it is an ugly ugly situation with no winners and only woody allen & mia farrow know the truth

  11. arvay says:

    I think the legal system — such as it is –a system rigged by and operated by very rich people. Others, watch your *ss. There will be no “perp walk” for Woody, and there should be none for anyone.
    This is a duel between very rich people. We can hope justice is actually served, and any crimes are discovered and punished as the lawyers duke it out.
    That said , many great geniuses have been very flawed. One thinks of Richard Wagner, William Shockley,Edwin Hubble.
    So eventually Allen’s work will be judged separately from his personal life.

  12. luxxikins says:

    Woody Allen in his own words in 1976 “I’m open-minded about sex. I’m not above reproach; if anything, I’m below reproach. I mean, if I was caught in a love nest with 15 12-year-old girls tomorrow, people would think, yeah, I always knew that about him.” Allen pauses. “Nothing I could come up with would surprise anyone,” he ventures helplessly. “I admit to it all.” Who jokes about sex with 12-year-old girls for goodness sake!
    http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20066950,00.html

  13. luxxikins says:

    She isn’t “caught in the crossfire” – she has chosen to publicly side with Woody Allen, for cynical, fiscal reasons. Cate Blanchett is supposedly a feminist. I know no feminist who would shut down the voice of a seven-year-old girl, claiming abuse. Cate Blanchett’s words have been described as “deft sidestepping”. Well, society has been “deftly sidestepping” the inconvenience of child abuse for decades. Cate Blanchett’s words may well have the effect of re-abusing the child victim. She should have considered the risk of that before she spoke the way she did. Cate Blanchett should clarify her position on child sex abuse, and how child victims should be treated.

  14. Glen says:

    Cate Blanchett has absolutely nothing to do with this controversy. It should only be about the art and the performance. She’s won practically single best actress award in this season. She’s been universally lauded as giving the best performance out of the nominees. That’s all that should matter – nothing else.

  15. Once again, everybody has their own theories about what the exactly things that happened to Dylan Farrow and Woody Allen. and everybody has their privilege to do that.

    But what i found things ridiculous is everybody seems being a judge to Woody Allen, particularly. I mean, Allen is a great writer/director whose works give a big contribution to the history of film-making.

    I am the person who against all kind of forms of delinquency of children, but in case of film-making, i see his works. And what Farrow did to Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Scarlet Johansson, etc is not fair. Is it what Farrow did to those actors kinda crime?

    And once again, i have my own theory about Farrow-Allen case. But i can’t judge anyone . I just love what Blanchett did in Blue Jasmine. And i hope The Academy will give the second Oscar to Blanchett

  16. Jason says:

    What on earth do Cate Blanchett and her astounding performance have to do with Woody Allen’s
    years-old family conflicts, and why would anyone make that ridiculous connection? The Academy should and will judge her work strictly on its own merits. To do otherwise would only discredit that Academy.

  17. Roberto says:

    Blanchett does not deserve this award, her work is exaggerated

  18. Both Woody Allen and Roman Polanski should be in jail; and their films should be boycotted!

  19. Jim says:

    With regard to The Hunt: the character in the movie is innocent.

  20. Suzie Siegel says:

    This isn’t just a “painful family situation.” Charges of child molestation concern society.

    • timgray2013 says:

      In response to Suzie Siegel: I agree that child molestation charges concern society. I had originally written a sentence saying that I hope all this discussion moves beyond he-said/she-said, and opens up discussion about ways to prevent child abuse, to raise family awareness, and to improve laws concerning molestation. Unfortunately, the editor cut those sentences. But in this particular case, an investigation was held and closed more than 20 years ago. And family members are contradicting each other in the media. So that’s why I think it’s a “painful family situation.”

  21. Richard Allan says:

    Roman Polansky did not serve time! And skipped the country! Not only that the connection for publisinging the so-called open letter was facilitated by a close, very close friend of Mommie at the NYT! The editorial boards of other newpapers refused to publish the decades old calim.

  22. Just Confused says:

    The kind that often leads to Cancer and death. HEALING can’t begin if we can’t LET GO OF THE PAST.

  23. Binky Li says:

    I found your article very one sided, not a neutral coverage of what is mostly a non-story. There are as many people that believe (as I do) that Mia Farrow is likely the guilty party in the family drama, that the law and many neutral people carefully examined the evidence in the 1980s regarding Allen’s alleged child abuse and found it had no merit whatsoever, and one must wonder, not about Allen’s guilt, but about the vindictive faux ex wife, Funny you should talk about Roman Polansky in your article, but not mention that Mia Farrow testified and defended him absolutely in his own abuse charges for which he fled conviction of actual charges and remains on the lam. You might want to rethink the neutral presentation you say you are presenting. It certainly doesn’t come across that way. I did agree with you that the public seems to be charged with their emotions here, but there is little foundation for any finger pointing at Woody Allen, just sadness that Dylan as a 7 year old was a victim of something, whether it is her mother’s outrage and perhaps brainwashing as her own brother concurs, and certainly Allen’s lawyers have assessed, not an uncommon scenario in divorce proceedings involving children, or molestation at the hands of someone other than Allen, we may never know. I recommend you see the film Witch Hunt about the Bakersfield, CA accusations against dozens of innocent parents and citizens in child molestation cases used as a political weapon by the District Attorney at the time. Children being brainwashed isn’t new.

    • Ken says:

      Thoughtful post. Mia Farrow (a woman I’ve admired for many years) seems to be suffering from “selective outrage” – unless I’m mistaken, she appears to have given a pass to her friend and former director Roman Polanski…but continues to flail away at Mr. Allen. Which is it, Ms. Farrow? And if the plan is to derail Cate Blanchett’s all-but-certain (and incredibly deserving) Oscar in March, one wonders why Ms. Farrow & Party haven’t attempted to derail the many actors who’ve graced Allen’s films since 1992. You wanna go after Allen. Fine, that’s your choice. But leave the hired hands out of your own messy personal battles. Thank You.

  24. Just Confused says:

    Only one reason to bring this up now, after so many years of not acting on it before: TIMING on this was meant to make it as destructive as possible for ALLEN. A LOT OF PAIN on both sides here.
    Harboring this kind of hatred only creates POISON. Theto cancer and death.

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