Woody Allen co-workers explain why they're still collaborating with the director despite abuse allegations

The two performers are starring in “Rifkin’s Festival,” which tells the tale of a retired film studies professor (Shawn) who accompanies his publicist wife (Gershon) to the San Sebastián Film Festival in Spain. 

While the film premieres on Friday, it has always been marked with controversy as it was written and directed by the filmmaker, who was previously accused of sexually abusing his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow.

In November, Shawn wrote an open letter for TheWrap.com directed at his Hollywood peers detailing why he’s still willing to work with Allen, 86.


Wallace Shawn (left) previously wrote an op-ed about why he's choosing to still work with Woody Allen.

Wallace Shawn (left) previously wrote an op-ed about why he’s choosing to still work with Woody Allen. (Getty Images)

“I feel it’s a terrible injustice that is happening in that Woody is not being honored and showered with gratitude for a lifetime of improving people’s lives by making wonderful films,” Shawn, 78, told Fox News. “I have deep sympathy, although they might not see it this way, even affection for all the Farrows, but I don’t actually think that Woody is guilty of the crime that he was accused of.”

“I know his daughter believes the story that she’s telling,” the “Princess Bride” star shared. “She’s sincere in believing it, but I think it didn’t happen as she remembers it. I mean, the story that she tells, I don’t think it happened. So I do think it’s terrible that actors have turned their backs on Woody and denounced him. That’s why I wrote that article.”

The allegations, made by Dylan Farrow when she was 7 years old, were first reported during Allen’s 1992 split from actress Mia Farrow. Two separate investigations were conducted in the 1990s, and Allen wasn’t charged. Dylan Farrow, now 36, has maintained that she was abused, and her allegations have been embraced in the #MeToo era.

Mia Farrow (left) and her daughter Dylan Farrow.

Mia Farrow (left) and her daughter Dylan Farrow. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Time)

In February 2021, HBO premiered a docuseries titled “Allen v. Farrow” that examined Allen and Mia Farrow’s doomed relationship and its fallout, including the allegations. Mia Farrow’s adult daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, who married Allen in 1997, didn’t participate in the documentary, nor did Moses Farrow, the son of Allen and Mia Farrow, 76. 


Allen has long denied sexually abusing Dylan Farrow. In a 2020 memoir, he said he “never did anything to her that could be even misconstrued as abusing her; it was a total fabrication from start to finish.”

Reps for Dylan Farrow and her mother didn’t immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Previously, TheWrap.com noted Dylan Farrow declined to comment on Shawn’s piece through a spokesperson but said the idea that the actor “could validate Dylan’s personhood and then go to invalidate her life experience” was “flawed.”

Gina Gershon attends the "Rifkin's Festival" premiere during the 68th San Sebastián International Film Festival at the Kursaal Palace on Sept. 18, 2020, in San Sebastián, Spain. 

Gina Gershon attends the “Rifkin’s Festival” premiere during the 68th San Sebastián International Film Festival at the Kursaal Palace on Sept. 18, 2020, in San Sebastián, Spain.  (Frank Lovicario/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Gershon, who has always wanted to work with Allen, told Fox News it was “a no-brainer” to appear in “Rifkin’s Festival.”

“I didn’t even see the story,” the 59-year-old explained. “I’ve always wanted to work with Woody. I think originally I was supposed to do a small part. A mutual friend of ours said, ‘You know, I think Woody’s anxious because this is too small of a part.’ I’m like, ‘I’ll do it.’ I knew once I worked with him, I would end up doing a bigger part just because I’ve admired him and respected him. And he’s been such an inspiration, ever since I was younger and started acting.”

“I didn’t care what part I was going to play,” the “Showgirls” star shared. “I would’ve done anything. And then he ended up offering me the part of Sue.”

Woody Allen has denied the allegations.

Woody Allen has denied the allegations. (Europa Press News/Europa Press via Getty Images)

Gershon said reading the script in its entirety only confirmed how determined she was to appear in the film. She noted how the role allowed her to shine in a different way.

“I was really excited,” said Gershon. “There’s so much about it… I think it’s the first time I’ve ever played someone closest to who I am. I’m always playing such crazy character parts. [Sue] was the closest, I think, to just who I am as a person… I just kept pinching myself.”

Shawn said it was “inspiring” to work with an actress like Gershon on set.


“She’s so wholeheartedly passionate and committed,” he explained. “I think we both felt very privileged to be doing what we were doing. And I think we both appreciate the fact that we’re not working in miserable office jobs… She has a light that is always on with her. I think it was lovely to work with her.”

Gershon revealed that the feeling was mutual. And she hopes audiences will get the chance to witness their affections for each other on the big screen in a film she described as “very sweet.”

“Oh my God, you knew it was going to be a wonderful day when you saw Wally,” she gushed. “Every time I see Wally, I just find myself smiling. He’s so wonderful… Just being in the makeup chair with him… he just seemed so happy. He’s just a wonderful human being. There’s nothing to not love about Wally. I felt very lucky.”

“Rifkin’s Festival’ premieres in theaters and digital platforms on Jan. 28. The Associated Press contributed to this report.