Last night, Woody Allen and wife Soon-Yi Previn arrived promptly for the The Cinema Society, Piaget, and Hollywood Reporter-hosted screening of Mr. Allen’s new European romp, To Rome With Love; while star Penelope Cruz sipped a soda nearby and paparazzi-embattled star Alec Baldwin breezed past the press into the theater, Mr. Allen walked the rope line of journalists, Ms. Previn trailing closely behind.
Given the sheer volume of stars with whom Mr. Allen has worked–in this film alone, Mr. Baldwin, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, and Ms. Cruz–we asked Mr. Allen who’d done the best job of playing “the Woody Allen part.” You know, the shy young nebbish Owen Wilson played in Midnight in Paris or that Mr. Eisenberg played in this film? Mr. Allen demurred: “They’re very different! Owen Wilson is a sweet kid from Texas, speaks slowly, serves my script great! I would have played that part, but Owen played it better than I ever could have. Jesse Eisenberg is a fast mover, talks kind of like me–and he was great!
“The truth is they’re both better actors than me. I’m a writer who can play his own material. They’re actors who can play Chekhov.”
Mr. Eisenberg is a new casting call for Mr. Allen, but this is the director’s second film with Penelope Cruz (and the first, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, won her an Oscar.) Is she his latest “muse”?
“She called me before I went to Barcelona and said, ‘If you’re making a movie in Barcelona, I want to be in it.’ So I said ‘Great!’ Then she called me and said ‘I speak Italian perfectly.’ So I wrote this part for her.” He mused that Ms. Cruz speaks French perfectly, too–perhaps a return to Paris, with Ms. Cruz in tow, is in the future.
We’d have asked, finally, where Mr. Allen keeps his recently procured Oscar, for writing Midnight in Paris, but we weren’t even sure he had it–as is his wont, the director skipped the ceremony. “They mailed it to me! You can’t avoid them.”
Mr. Allen’s star, Ms. Gerwig, told us that she’d made unnecessary preparations for the part: “Well, I’m a nerd–sort of professionally. It was originally called The Bop Decameron, so I read The Decameron. No relation! Didn’t need to do that. That was unnecessarily dorky. I got those audio book on tapes to learn Italian, and I’d repeat the phrases while on the elliptical machine. I looked insane!”
The screening (to be followed by a party, held, less-than-fortuituously given the heat, in the sweltering Casa Lever Gardens, though guests remarked how preternaturally cool Julianna Margulies looked in the air-conditioned indoors) began with Letty Aronson, producer, thanking the cast by name. “Am I forgetting anyone?” she asked.
“Woody!” an attendee shouted.
Ms. Aronson noted that she’d thanked Woody effusively.
“Woody Harrelson!” the attendee rebutted.
Woody Harrelson is one of the few stars not in To Rome With Love.
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