Woody Allen on his films: 'I would shoot them all again'
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 18: Woody Allen attends the Chicago premiere of 'Irrational Man' at Bellweather Meeting House & Eatery on July 18, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Gabriel Grams/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 15: US director Woody Allen (L) and his wife Soon Yi (R) arrive for the screening of the film 'Irrational Man' at the 68th international film festival in Cannes, France. May 15, 2015. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2013, file photo, director and actor Woody Allen appears at the French premiere of "Blue Jasmine," in Paris. Allen has added his handprints to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located in Pawtucket, R.I., but not the one in California. Allen was in town on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, filming a new movie, and he agreed to add his handprints to the small âwalk of fameâ in the old mill town. Allen put his prints into wet cement Thursday afternoon, and it will be installed at a later date. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)
Woody Allen attends the "Magic In The Moonlight" premiere, hosted by Dolce & Gabbana, at the Paris Theatre on Thursday, July 17, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Director and actor Woody Allen, center, Australian actress Cate Blanchett, left, and British actress Sally Hawkins pose as they arrive for the French premiere of Blue Jasmine, in Paris, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Director and actor Woody Allen, right, and his wife Soon-Yi Previn arrive for the French premiere of Blue Jasmine, in Paris, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
This publicity image released by Sony Pictures Classics shows, actress Cate Blanchett, left, director Woody Allen, center, and Alec Baldwin on the set of "Blue Jasmine." Allen will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award at Sunday?s ceremony. (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Classics)
Writer and director Woody Allen and wife Soon-Yi Previn arrive for the screening of "To Rome With Love," in Paris, Monday, June 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Writer and director Woody Allen arrives for the screening of "To Rome With Love," in Paris, Monday, June 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Actress Penelope Cruz, left, writer and director Woody Allen and actress Greta Gerwig attend a special screening of "To Rome With Love" hosted by The Cinema Society with The Hollywood Reporter & Piaget at the Paris Theatre on Wednesday June 20, 2012 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Greta Gerwig, Penelope Cruz, Alison Pill and writer/director Woody Allen attend the premiere of "To Rome With Love" at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE on Thursday June 14, 2012 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)
Woody Allen and Angela Lansbury attend the opening night after party for Broadway's "Relatively Speaking", three one act comedies by Ethan Coen, Elaine May and Woody Allen, in New York, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
US Director Woody Allen signs autographs as he inaugurates an open air cinema set up at the Forlanini hospital, in Rome, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. Woody Allen is in Rome for the shooting of his latest movie "The Bop Decameron". (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
US Director Woody Allen, right, and Rome province president Renata Polverini inaugurate an open air cinema set up at the Forlanini hospital, in Rome, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. Woody Allen is in Rome for the shooting of his latest movie "The Bop Decameron". (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
US Director Woody Allen is seen in central Rome, Thursday, July 14, 2011, during the shooting of his latest movie "The Bop Decameron". Spanish actress Penelope Cruz will act in the comedy that will also feature among others Roberto Benigni, Jesse Eisenbergh, Ellen Page and Judy Davis. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
US Director Woody Allen is seen in central Rome, Monday, July 11, 2011, on the first day of the shooting of his latest movie "The Bop Decameron". Spanish actress Penelope Cruz will act in the comedy that will also feature among others Roberto Benigni, Jesse Eisenbergh, Ellen Page and Judy Davis. (AP Photo/Angelo Carconi)
American director Woody Allen, left, receives by Rome's Mayor Gianni Alemanno the Capitoline wolf, prize, on the occasion of his visit to Rome's Campidoglio, Capitol Hill, Wednesday, July 6, 2011. Allen arrived in Rome for the shooting of his new movie. (AP Photo/Virginia Farneti, LaPresse) ITALY OUT
Director Woody Allen attends the press conference for Midnight in Paris, at the 64th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Actress Lea Seydoux and director Woody Allen chat during a photo call for Midnight in Paris, at the 64th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
Director Woody Allen, right, speaks to actor Tony Roberts during a break in the action during the second half of an NBA basketball game between the New York Knicks and the New Orleans Hornets, Wednesday, March 2, 2011, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Director Woody Allen poses for a portrait while promoting the film 'You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger' at the Toronto International Film Festival Sunday Sept. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri)
Actress Naomi Watts and filmmaker Woody Allen exit following the premiere of "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger", at the 63rd international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
From left, actor Josh Brolin, actress Gemma Jones, actress Naomi Watts, filmmaker Woody Allen, and actress Lucy Punch, pose during a photo call for the film "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger", at the 63rd international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
From left, actress Patricia Clarkson, director Woody Allen and actress Evan Rachel Wood attend the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival opening premiere of 'Whatever Works' at the Ziegfeld Theater on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
U.S. film director Woody Allen, right, and actress Penelope Cruz, pose for photographers before the screening of their film 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
U.S. film director, Woody Allen gestures during the press conference promoting his new film, ''Vicky Cristina Barcelona', at the 56th San Sebastian Film Festival in San Sebastian, northern Spain, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008. The San Sebastian Film Festival, the oldest and most prestigious in the Spanish speaking World, opens Thursday with a strong focus on European and U.S. movies. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
From left, British actress Rebecca Hall, American director Woody Allen and Spanish actress Penelope Cruz pose at the photo call for the film "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" during the 61st International film festival in Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 17, 2008. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri)
In this photo provided by Feinstein's at the Regency, director Woody Allen, left, and his wife Soon-Yi Previn pose with singer Michael Feinstein at the opening night of Feinstein's Holiday Show at the Regency Hotel in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007. (AP Photo/Feinstein's at the Regency, Marion Curtis)
In this photo provided by The Cinema Society, actress Scarlett Johansson, left, director Woody Allen, and actress Emily Mortimer, right, attend a special screening of the new Dreamworks Pictures film "Match Point" in New York City, Wednesday Dec. 14, 2005. (AP Photo/Marion Curtis,The Cinema Society)
American actress Tiffani Thiessen, right, strokes Woody Allen's cheek as American actress Debra Messing looks on as they pose for their film "Hollywood Ending," presented out of competition during a photocall at the 55th Film Festival in Cannes, France, Wednesday, May 15, 2002. "Hollywood Ending" will be the opening film of the festival Wednesday night.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Actor and director Woody Allen makes his way through a sea of reporters as he leaves Appellate Court in Manhattan, New York, Jan. 13, 1994. Allen is appealing a judge's earlier custody arrangement. (AP Photo/Mike Albans)
Director Woody Allen carries his five year old son Satchel back to Mia Farrow's apartment in New York City, USA on June 7, 1993, following two hours of visitation rights with the boy who is Allen's and Farrows biological son. Allen lost a custody battle against Farrow. (AP Photo/Chrystyna Czajkowsky)
Director Woody Allen gestures towards photographers as he leaves court in Lower Manhattan, New York Monday, May 3, 1993, after listening to another day of testimony in his bitter child custody with ex-lover actress Mia Farrow. (AP Photo/Rickey Recard)
Woody Allen and former and actress Diane Keaton take in the sights and sounds of New York?s Madison Square Garden Wednesday, Oct. 21, 1992, as the New York Rangers play host to the Washington Capitals. Allen is presently shooting his new flick, ?Manhattan Murder Mystery,? which features Keaton, at various locations in the Big Apple. (AP Photo/Richard Harbus)
Woody Allen and Mia Farrow take in the show as the Big Apple Circus opens for its 10th anniversary at Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center in New York Friday, Nov. 14, 1987. The couple announced in TV interview on Friday, that they are expecting a child, which would make Allen a first-time father. Flanking Farrow are her two adopted children; woman at left is unidentified. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey)
Producer-director, writer-actor Woody Allen smiles during filming of his movie at a midtown Manhattan location in New York City, Feb. 22, 1980. (AP Photo/Steve Sands)
Woody Allen sits with Mariel Hemingway at Yankee Stadium in New York, during the World Series Oct. 13, 1978. (AP Photo)
Woody Allen and Shirley MacLaine chat at a publisher?s party in New York on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 1978, honoring the late James Jones. (AP Photo/ Richard Drew)
Film Star-Comedian Woody Allen signs a Care Empty Plate pledge June 26, 1975, to skip, a meal a week and send the $ to Care. (AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine)
Actor-director Woody Allen is photographed during an interview in New York City on April 8, 1977. (AP Photo/Jerry T. Mosey)
Most of the Cannes Film Festival press conferences feature the same congratulatory pats on the back between filmmaker and star, but when Woody Allen held court with reporters on Friday afternoon, he veered way off the subject of his latest film, "Irrational Man."
Among the topics Allen breezed through: the meaninglessness of life (a favorite talking point of the 79-year-old filmmaker), world philosophy ("none of us would think the way we think if it wasn't for Kant"), the escapism of baseball games and Fred Astaire movies, and how Communists fared in concentration camps. At one point, a journalist asked the spaced-out director: "Mr. Allen, are you there?"
The stars of Allen's new film, Emma Stone and Parker Posey (wearing a hat and sunglasses in the indoor venue), could barely get a word in. Joaquin Phoenix, who plays a disillusioned college professor with a potbelly, skipped out on the event.
But Allen still had more than enough to say without him. Allen explained that he turned to a directing career to temporarily distract himself from the nihilistic viewpoint that we're all going to die. He wished that he could be afforded the same luxury as Charlie Chaplin: to shoot a movie for practice before he filmed it again for real.
"I make a film, and I never ever look at it again once I put it out," Allen said. "If you look at it again, you can always see what you did wrong and how you can improve it. And why it's as terrible as it is. I would shoot them all again."
Allen said that artists can try to assign meaning to their existence, but they are conning themselves.
"Everything you create in your life will vanish," Allen said. "You're living in a random universe and you're living a meaningless life. Everything you create in your life will vanish and the Earth will vanish and the universe will be gone." He added that not even the works of Michelangelo or Beethoven will survive in the end.
"It's very hard to sell someone the bill of goods that there's any good to this," Allen added. "The only way to beat it a little is through distraction. What distracts me is: Can I get Emma and Parker to do this scene right?"
Allen said that he doesn't stay in touch with actors once a production wraps. He also tries to get out of their way for the most part. "The people I've worked with had careers and were great before they met me, and they are great after they leave me," Allen said. "Nothing special is happening. If you just hire wonderful people, that's all you have to do. Don't mess them up. Don't ruin them."
He said he had always wanted to work with Posey, because he liked the sound of her name. He discovered Stone (who also appeared in his last film, "Magic in the Moonlight") on the treadmill, when he accidentally caught a clip of one of her movies playing on TV. As he started to offer his thoughts on the film's final scene, Stone jumped in about how she never heard this while they were shooting. "It's interesting," Stone told Allen. "Keep going."
Allen is now working on a TV series for Amazon Studios, a job he regrets ever taking. "It was a catastrophic mistake for me," Allen said. "I never should have gotten into it. I thought it would be easy to do six half-hours. It's very, very hard. I hope I don't disappoint Amazon. I'm not good at it. I don't know what I'm doing."
Woody Allen & Mariel Hemingway
Woody Allen on his films: 'I would shoot them all again'
Woody Allen plays harmonica to Mariel Hemingway in a scene from the film 'Manhattan' 1979.
(Photo by United Artists via Getty Images)
United States film producer Charles H. Joffe, actress Mariel Hemingway and her father Jack Hemingway arrive to see Woody Allen's film "Manhattan" May 12, 1979 at the 32nd International Film Festival in Cannes, France.
(Photo via AP)
For her starring role in the Warner Bros. film "Personal Best," actress Mariel Hemingway had to train her lanky 5-feet-10 frame into top condition for her part as an Olympic-caliber pantathlete. Miss Hemingway, 20, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, made her first nude appearance in the film. Mariel Hemingway shown in January 1982.
(Photo by Lennox McLendon/AP)
Woody Allen sits with Mariel Hemingway at Yankee Stadium in New York, during the World Series Oct. 13, 1978.
(Photo via AP)
Mariel Hemingway in Cannes, France on May 12, 1979. She acted in Woody Allen's film "Manhattan" which was presented in the 32nd International Film Festival.
(Photo by Jean Jacques Levy/AP)
Actress Mariel Hemingway, who starred in the Woody Allen movie "Deconstructing Harry'" on December 5, 1997 at the film's premiere in Los Angeles.
(Photo by Vince Bucci via AFP/Getty Images)
Actor-director Woody Allen is photographed during an interview in New York City on April 8, 1977.
(Photo by Jerry T. Mosey/AP)
Actress Mariel Hemingway attends "The Words and Music of Cold Mountain" held on December 8, 2003 at Royce Holl on the campus of UCLA, in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
Director/actor Woody Allen kisses his wife Soon-Yi Previn as they attend a special screening of DreamWorks Pictures' "Anything Else" at the Paris Theatre on September 16, 2003 in New York City.
(Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
Mariel Hemingway listens to a question during the A&E Network 2005 Television Critics Winter Press Tour at the Hilton Universal Hotel on January 14, 2005 in Universal City, California.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Actress Mariel Hemingway speaks at the LOHAS 9 forum held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on April 26, 2005 in Hollywood, California.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Actress Mariel Hemingway arrives for the premiere of Wild Hogs, on February 27, 2007 in Hollywood, California.
(Photo by Gabriel Bouys via AFP/Getty Images)
US film director Woody Allen reacts on the set of his film "The Bop Decameron" at Rome's Termini train station on July 14, 2011.
(Photo by Tiziana Fabi via AFP/Getty Images)
US director Woody Allen poses on the red carpet before the opening ceremony and the screening of "Midnight in Paris" presented out-of- competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival on May 11, 2011 in Cannes.
(Photo by Francois Guillot via AFP/Getty Images)
Actress Mariel Hemingway speaks during the "American Masters 25th Anniversary Season: Seriously Funny - The Comic Art of Woody Allen" panel during the PBS portion of the 2011 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 31, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Actress and activist Mariel Hemingway speaks about suicide prevention and her new movie, "Running from Crazy," at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on June 20, 2013. There have been seven suicides in her immediate family, including her grandfather, famed American novelist Ernest Hemingway, and her sister, actress Margaux.
(Photo by Saul Loeb via AFP/Getty Images)
Director/producer Woody Allen attends Film Independent's 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival Premiere of Sony Pictures Classics' "To Rome With Love" at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14 on June 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Mariel Hemingway arrives at the premiere of the HBO documentary film "His Way" in Los Angeles on March 22, 2011.
(Photo by Chris Pizzello/AP)
Cast members, actress Mariel Hemingway, right, and her boyfriend Bobby Williams, left, pose together at the premiere of "Running From Crazy" during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 20, 2013 in Park City, Utah.
(Photo by Danny Moloshok via Invision/AP)
Director Woody Allen and Soon Yi Previn attend Film Independent's 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival Premiere Of Sony Pictures Classics' "To Rome With Love" at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14 on June 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Director Woody Allen attends "The Revisionist" opening night at Cherry Lane Theatre on February 28, 2013 in New York City.
(Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
Actress and author Mariel Hemingway poses for a portrait in promotion of her new memoir "Out Came the Sun" on Monday, April 6, 2015 in New York.