Woody Allen on Cannes Rape Joke: ‘I’ve Had Worse Things Than That Said About Me’

The director defends the right of comedians to make jokes about anything

Last Updated: May 12, 2016 @ 7:29 AM

Woody Allen said that the rape joke told about him at Wednesday’s Cannes Film Festival opening ceremony didn’t offend him, because he’s taken plenty of criticism in the past.

“It didn’t bother me at all,” he said at a private media luncheon on Thursday afternoon. “I’ve had worse things than that said about me.”

French comedian Lauren Lafitte, the master of ceremonies at the opening ceremony, brought up the fact that Allen has been shooting many of his films in Europe in recent years, apparently comparing that to Roman Polanski‘s exile in Europe.

“It’s very nice that you’ve been shooting so many movies in Europe,” he said, “even if you are not being convicted for rape in the U.S.”

Allen’s European filming has largely been for tax breaks; Polanski’s is because he cannot return to the United States without being arrested in connection with a rape conviction in the early 1970s.

At the luncheon, Allen initially said that as a comedian, he defends the right of fellow comics to deliver “whatever jokes they want.”

When pressed on whether that particular joke offended him, he demurred. “It would take a lot to offend me,” he said.

Allen refused to address a recent column by his former partner Mia Farrow‘s son Ronan Farrow, which charged that the media doesn’t take his sister Dylan’s rape allegations against Allen seriously.

“I wrote about all of that in the New York Times several years ago,” he said, referring to a column in which he flatly denied Dylan Farrow’s allegations. “And I said at the time, I’m never going to comment on it again.”

Allen’s latest film, “Cafe Society,” opened the festival on Wednesday. He said he begins pre-production on Friday on his next  movie, a comedy set in an amusement park and potentially filming on Coney Island this summer, “if I can work out the logistics of it.”