Jesse Eisenberg has spoken out against Woody Allen “being tried in the press” over allegations of child abuse made by Mia and Ronan Farrow and their supporters.
Jesse, who stars in Woody Allen’s latest film ‘Cafe Society’ out today in UK cinemas, recently volunteered for a few months working in a domestic violence shelter, and tells HuffPostUK: “I have a personal connection to that kind of stuff, I’m sensitive to it.”
The controversy has followed Woody Allen ever since 1992, when his former partner Mia Farrow alleged that he had sexually abused their daughter Dylan. Although the director was cleared by subsequent inquiries, Dylan repeated her claims in 2014, and the matter continues to be a polarising one for everyone involved.
However, Jesse insists he has no problem working with the veteran director, telling HuffPostUK: “It didn’t factor into my opinion.”
He explains: “I don’t think it’s appropriate to try people in the press. I have been tried in the press for minor, minor things because I mis-spoke or had a sarcastic line or something, so I understand what that’s like because I’m in the public eye, and it’s very painful.”
On the contrary, taking the lead role in ‘Cafe Society’ was an emotional union for Jesse, who has idolised Woody Allen since he was teenager starting out in the arts, and credits him with a unique influence on his life.
The ‘Social Network’ star remembers: “When I was younger I was obsessed to the point that I wrote a script about his life and then his lawyers threatened legal action when I was 17.
“He’s been a part of my life and my interest in the arts more than any other person working.
“As an actor, he films scenes in away that allows actors to live out their characters. He doesn’t do a million edits or fifteen angles, so when you’re watching you’re aware of a naturalism you don’t often see so much in movies. As an actor, whose background in theatre, there’s no one else working like that.”
‘Cafe Society’ is a romantic comedy-drama, with tropes familiar to fans of Woody Allen’s recent work. Alongside Jesse, Steve Carell, Blake Lively and Kristen Stewart star in a deceptively lightly-told tale of a young man following his dream to 1930s Hollywood and falling in love with his talent agent uncle’s secret mistress.
The film brings all the gloss of Tinsel Town, while glimpsing into an underbelly of betrayal and gangster violence. For Jesse, this familiar territory is resonant of his own experience when he first left the comfort of his native East Coast for the trappings of Hollywood.
“Similar to what happens to my character, I thought, goodness, this the most beautiful place on earth, there’s a diverse topography, it’s gorgeous, and yet I just have this total anxious aversion to it, and I think it’s because I associate with my work which like everyone I have anxiety and ambivalence about.
“So it’s this kind of strange dichotomy of being attracted to this incredibly beautiful place and being repulsed by things which make you nervous about it. In this movie there’s no shortage of that, my character has entered an amoral, back-stabbing, dog-eat-dog dystopia.
“I’m probably not as cynical as Woody Allen about that kind of stuff, but I can certainly see that. There’s that stuff in New York, too, people are just more open to it or aware of it in New York, it’s not such a shock.”
‘Cafe Society’ is on release now in UK cinemas.