Woody Allen on his films: 'I would shoot them all again'

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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)
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By RAMIN SETOODEH
Variety

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.

Woody Allen Gets Two-Minute Standing Ovation in Cannes


"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."

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Woody Allen & Mariel Hemingway
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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)

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)

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)

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)

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