Without their vibrant, odd, beautiful, and unique women, Woody Allen’s movies would be nothing more the ample angsting of a hyper-articulate nebbish. That is the subject of a piece in June’s W on Allen’s many muses, which includes the auteur’s take on what he looks for in a leading lady, as well as interviews with Allen gals from Mariel Hemingway to Penélope Cruz. What emerges is a fascinating — and, you know, kind of weird — image of what makes a great Woody Allen muse. A guide for those looking to be the next Diane Keaton is after the jump.
Don’t get comfortable.
Woody Allen: “Casting is so awkward… I’m too shy to meet them. I have the women come in and I don’t let them sit down. I make up some questions, but I couldn’t care less about chatting.”
Remain frozen in time.
Allen: “I only see them to make sure that they haven’t gained 200 pounds or had five face jobs. I want to see that the woman I saw on the DVD is still intact.”
Do not expect any “social bullshit.”
Penélope Cruz: “Woody and I had a meeting in New York for 40 seconds… And when I left, the people who worked in his office said, ‘Oh — you have been there for a very long time.’ He said he had seen Volver and that he was writing a character that would be right for me. I love a lot of things about Woody, but I really love his honesty and that there is no social bullshit. He only talks to you about what he thinks is important.”
Make sure your talent shines through, no matter how bad the films you’re in are.
Mariel Hemingway: “He cast me in Manhattan after seeing me in Lipstick… And no one saw that movie. My last name is Hemingway, but I’m really a country girl, and when Woody called our house in Idaho, my mom had to explain to me who Woody Allen was. I had seen Sleeper, but, frankly, I thought it was the weirdest movie.”
Possess a certain je ne sais quoi that compensates for your lack of experience.
Hemingway: “I read for him and I was terrible, but he saw something in me. I was 16 when I made Manhattan, 17 when it came out, and 18 when I was nominated for an Academy Award for my performance. It was like a dream.”
Allow Woody to be your teacher/father figure.
Hemingway: “In real life, Woody and I didn’t have a romantic relationship, but he did make me feel incredibly intelligent. He took me to museums and concerts. He gave me his wisdom, and you can see that in the character.”
But, yes, he also has to have a crush on you.
Allen: “I didn’t know Penélope from a hole in the wall… But when she came into my screening room, I was stunned: She was even more beautiful than in the movies. She didn’t have to say a word, but I knew: I wrote the part for her, and I never saw anyone else.”
You have to be “real.” But hot. But real. But hot!
Allen: “The women, especially, in my films have to be real. And yet it’s also very important to me to present the women with the enthusiasm and eroticism and awe that I feel about them. I’m very concerned with how they look, that they match my image of them.”
“Like many Allen heroines, Leoni is quite tall. Historically, a leading lady would never be taller than her opposite: Allen’s casting of himself forever altered the image of what constitutes a romantic lead. He made nerdiness and a kind of twitchy intelligence sexy.”
A little Hollywood glamor won’t hurt.
Allen: “My concept of Manhattan is one that I gleaned from Hollywood movies. And it’s the same with the women in my films: I see them all through rose-colored glasses.”