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Why Woody isn’t up for a ménage-a-trois


 

At the Cannes press conference for Woody’s Allen’s new comedy, Vicky Cristina Barcelona—which features a ménage-a-trois involving Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson—I couldn’t resist asking Woody the obvious question, even the answer was equally obvious:

“The ménage a trois, the threesome, is a classic and enduring male fantasy,” I ventured, tickled to be serving as Woody’s straight man in a packed house. “I’m wondering, Mr. Allen, if that is fantasy of yours, and if you’ve ever wanted to make it happen?

“It’s hard enough to get one person,” replied Woody, drawing a big laugh from the room. “In trying to figure out solutions in life, two actually tends to make it more complicated than one. The characters in this movie, the chemistry was right, so they were able to handle that situation and make work for them even though it’s for a brief period of time. In real life, most people could not survive that situation in a serious way because it’s too complicated and has too many emotional complications that would be too difficult to surmount. In film you can do it because I’m dealing with larger-than-life characters—Penélope and Javier, two artists who are crazed and have a larger-than-life view of things. But in real life most of us petty people could never handle anything like that. And as I was saying before it’s hard enough to get a relationship that will work out with one person, but with two it becomes geometrically. . . fatal.”

In case you’re curious, despite the voluptuous casting, the sex in Vicky Cristina Barcelona is very tame and tasteful. Which did not prevent a Sunday Times journalist from asking Cruz if she “had any qualms about the lesbian kiss scene.” (A lesbian kiss between movie stars is always news on Fleet St.) Cruz did not rise to the bait, saying she was “not inspired” by the question. “I’ve been asked the question four times today and I didn’t give any answer because I didn’t have any answer, and I thought, ‘What would Woody say?’

Asked why he shot a movie in Barcelona, Allen said, in so many words, that it was a working vacation: “The people in Barcelona called and said are you interested in making a film there. And I said sure. I love Spain, I love Barcelona. My wife and my children would love to spend the summer in Barcelona So I wrote something set in Barcelona. If somebody called from Norway or Venice or Stockholm or God knows where I probably would have agreed to it just as readily, but this was a golden opportunity for me because I happen to have a continuing fondness for a number of cities in Spain and Barcelona is certainly my favorite.”

A solicitous female journalist from Ubekistan, predicted Allen’s latest film would do very well in Central Asia, because men already are into the idea of having more than one wife. Encouraged by the notion of plotting films as tourist junkets, and touting the beauty of actresses in her part of the world, she made her pitch: “I really hope your next film you will plan to do in Russia or in Central Asia.

Allen looked dumbfounded.

“You’re asking me if I plan to shoot in Russia? . . . No plans at the moment. But I’ll tell you an interesting story. Years ago I visited Russia with my family. I went to Leningrad. I was planning on being there for five days. I was there for about two hours and I went to the travel agent in the hotel and said, “Get me the first reservation out of here. I don’t care where it goes.’ I had a terrible, terrible time when I was there. I haven’t been back since then. I’m told it has greatly changed. But I’m a fearful traveller. And it would take a lot to get me back to Russia.”


 

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