A question about Woody Allen could be the death knell for any press tour ― thoughts and prayers to Scarlett Johansson’s presumably very tired publicist ― but Spike Lee is trying to course-correct after defending the controversial filmmaker.
The “BlacKkKlansman” director has been busy promoting his new Netflix film, “Da 5 Bloods.” He called into New York’s WOR radio on Friday to talk about the war drama, which explores the traumas a group of Black veterans experienced during the Vietnam War.
In the interview, Lee defended Allen against cancel culture, suggesting he’d been unfairly maligned by the industry.
“I’d just like to say Woody Allen is a great, great filmmaker and this cancel thing is not just Woody,” Lee said. “When we look back on it, we are going to see that, short of killing somebody, I don’t know that you can just erase someone like they never existed. Woody’s a friend of mine, a fellow Knick fan, and I know he’s going through it right now.”
Allen’s daughter Dylan Farrow has for decades accused her father of sexually abusing her when she was a child. Since Farrow spoke out in 1992, Allen has denied the allegations made against him.
Following online criticism over Lee’s comments, the “Do the Right Thing” director walked them back and issued a statement in support of victims of sexual abuse.
“I Deeply Apologize. My Words Were WRONG. I Do Not And Will Not Tolerate Sexual Harassment, Assault Or Violence. Such Treatment Causes Real Damage That Can’t Be Minimized. -Truly, Spike Lee,” he wrote on Twitter Saturday.
After being disavowed by many of its high-profile cast members, Allen’s most recent film, “A Rainy Day in New York,” was shelved by Amazon Studios and never released domestically; Amazon also terminated a multifilm deal amid pressure from the Me Too movement.
Earlier this year, Allen’s memoir, “Apropos of Nothing,” was set to be released by Hachette Book Group, but after employees staged a walkout in protest, the company reversed its decision to distribute the book, in which he responds to allegations of child sexual abuse made against him.
Farrow expressed her gratitude for the employees who stood up for her in a statement after the walkouts.
“Words will never describe the debt of gratitude I owe to you,” Farrow wrote. “For someone who has felt alone in my story for so long, yesterday was a profound reminder of what a difference can be made when people stand and unite together for what’s right.”