The XX Factor

Most of Hollywood Still Has Woody Allen’s Back—but Susan Sarandon Does Not

Susan Sarandon at the Women in Motion series on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 12.

Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

Woody Allen has been the focus of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but not just because of his new movie, Cafe Society. On the day the festival opened, Allen’s son, Ronan Farrow, published a blistering essay in the Hollywood Reporter criticizing the media for ignoring his sister Dylan’s allegation that Allen assaulted her when she was 7 (an essay that got Hollywood Reporter journalists banned from a subsequent Cafe Society press conference). During the opening ceremony, French comic Laurent Lafitte told Allen, “You’ve been shooting so many of your films here in Europe and yet in the U.S. you haven’t even been convicted for rape”—a joke which many people interpreted to be about the allegation. Lafitte later told the Hollywood Reporter he was unaware of the assault allegation against Allen and meant it “as a joke about American puritanism and the fact that it is surprising that an American director wants to do so many movies in Europe,” retroactively making the joke unfunny.

On Sunday, actress Susan Sarandon criticized Allen, and she left no doubt about what she meant. During a panel discussion at Cannes with Geena Davis, Sarandon’s co-star in the groundbreaking 1991 movie Thelma & Louise, Sarandon was asked what she thought about Allen’s recent comment that he hasn’t made a movie about a younger man falling in love with an older woman because “I just don’t have any material.” Reporters in the room chuckled in response to the question, but Sarandon dryly responded, “I have nothing good to say about Woody Allen, so I don’t think we should go there.” After the reporter prodded for elaboration, Sarandon added, “I think he sexually assaulted a child, and I don’t think that’s right.” The chuckling immediately stopped; but, it’s worth noting, the consummately professional Davis didn’t even flinch at Sarandon’s no-nonsense answer.

Sarandon has previously spoken out against Allen, notably in a 2014 interview with the Daily Beast in which she said, “I think he really tore that family apart in a way that was horrible, and hasn’t really dealt with the aftermath.” Her willingness now to state the allegation against Allen very plainly, instead of couching them in euphemisms or glossing them over, is refreshing—and, as Ronan Farrow mentioned in his recent essay, very rare in Hollywood, where actors “continue to line up to star in his movies.”  

Allen, who has denied the assault allegation, responded to the renewed focus last week by saying, “I’ve said all I can say about it. I have so moved on that I never think about it.” Obviously, much of Hollywood has also moved on—but Sarandon’s comments are a nice reminder that some actors still do think about it.