Woody Allen Insists His Characters Are Not His Life
06.16.09 by reelz
In an extensive interview with NPR, Woody Allen talks about his latest comedy, Whatever Works, and gets existential about his relationship to the characters in his movies. In his own view, things are not quite as close as they might appear.
The curmudgeonly worldview adopted by his latest lead, Boris (Larry David), is illustrated at the beginning of the interview with an audio clip from Whatever Works. Boris explains to an outraged mother that he didn't throw a chess set at her son:
That idiot's your son? Do me a favor. Don't send that cretin to me any more. I can't teach an empty-headed zombie chess.... I didn't throw it at him. I picked up the board and dumped the pieces on his head as an object lesson to shake him out of his vegetable torpor.... Your son's an imbecile. Teach him tiddlywinks, not chess.
Funny and over-the top. In other words, classic Allen. But the director insists that he isn't nearly as misanthropic or as arrogant as Boris, a part that he originally envisioned for Zero Mostel. The characters he's felt comfortable playing, himself, are a lot more self-depricating.
Nonetheless, his basic philosophy ends up just as bleak. As Boris sums up his view near the beginning of the movie: "Life is short, so take what little pleasure where you can get in this chamber of horrors." It's an attitude that has recurred again and again in Allen's movies. Allen takes up the theme at a more personal level too, explaining that for him "making a movie is a great distraction from the real agonies of the world." The ultimate solution, for both his character and himself, seems to be to spice things up with a little humor and "whatever works."