"She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy," Woody Allen says of courting now-wife Soon-Yi Previn

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated July 30, 2015 02:15 PM
Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty

Woody Allen has opened up about his relationship with wife Soon-Yi Previn, saying he was “paternal” when they first got together and initially never imagined their “fling” would turn into a long-term marriage.

“I’ve been married now for 20 years, and it’s been good,” he tells NPR in a new interview. “I think that was probably the odd factor, that I’m so much older than the girl I married. I’m 35 years older, and somehow, through no fault of mine or hers, the dynamic worked.”

Allen, who turns 80 in December, then went on to explain that dynamic.

“I was paternal,” he says. “She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me, and I was happy to give her an enormous amount of decision-making just as a gift and let her take charge of so many things. She flourished. It was just a good-luck thing.”

Previn, 44, grew up alongside Allen, who lived and worked with Previn’s adopted mom, Mia Farrow, in the ’80s and early ’90s. Allen’s relationship with Farrow infamously fell apart when Farrow discovered intimate pictures of Previn in Allen’s possession.

“I started the relationship with her and I thought it would just be a fling, it wouldn’t be serious,” Allen says in the new interview. “But it had a life of its own. And I never thought it would be anything more. Then we started going together, then we started living together, and we were enjoying it. And the age difference didn’t seem to matter. It seemed to work in our favor, actually.”

Allen, whose latest film, Irrational Man, was released earlier this month, also asserts that his films are not a reflection of his personal life.

“I never see any evidence of anything in my private life resonating in film,” says Allen.

He also does not believe that the controversy involving daughter Dylan, who claims he molested her as a child, has changed the way people view his work.

“I would say no,” he says. “I always had a small audience. People did not come in great abundance, and they still don’t, and I’ve maintained the same audience over the years. If the reviews are bad, they don’t come. If the reviews are good, they probably come.”