Woody Allen: Changing Soon-Yi’s Life Has Been One of His Greatest Pleasures

Irrational Man Premiere At The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Photo: Barcroft Media/Getty Images

The marriage between Woody Allen and Soon-Yi, the adopted daughter of his former partner Mia Farrow,* is something that has not aged gracefully — a feature that only becomes more pronounced whenever Allen discusses it. Just last year, Allen described his relationship with Soon-Yi as “paternal.” In an extended interview with The Hollywood Reporter, we can see just how this paternalism manifests. In response to the question, “How has your wife, Soon-Yi, changed you?” Allen instead chose to discuss how he changed her:

Oh, well, one of the great experiences of my life has been my wife. She had a very, very difficult upbringing in Korea: She was an orphan on the streets, living out of trash cans and starving as a 6-year-old. And she was picked up and put in an orphanage. And so I’ve been able to really make her life better. I provided her with enormous opportunities, and she has sparked to them. She’s educated herself and has tons of friends and children and got a college degree and went to graduate school, and she has traveled all over with me now. She’s very sophisticated and has been to all the great capitals of Europe. She has just become a different person. So the contributions I’ve made to her life have given me more pleasure than all my films.

Recognizing that Allen didn’t technically answer the question, the interviewer Stephen Galloway presses on, asking, “You’re saying how you changed her. How has she changed you?”

(Allen pauses.) Well, she’s given me a lot of pleasure. I adore her, and she’s given me a wonderful life. We’ve been married 20 years. And we were together for a few years before that. And she has given me the great years of my life, personally. She’s a great companion and a great wife. She has given me a stable and wonderful home life and great companionship. I guess whenever you meet somebody and they’re the right person for you, there is a great emotional contribution they make to your life.

Undeterred, Galloway asks again, “But has she changed you in any way?” Allen pauses again and replies, “Changed me? I don’t know if you could say she changed me. I don’t know if I’ve changed.”

* An earlier version of this article misidentified Soon-Yi as Woody Allen’s stepdaughter. The post has been corrected to show she is the adopted daughter of his former partner Mia Farrow.

Woody Allen on Changing Soon-Yi’s Life