Dylan Farrow makes her debut as a novelist, acknowledges 'elephant in the room' Woody Allen

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Maria Puente, USA TODAY
·6 min read
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Dylan Farrow is stepping forward to promote her new novel and talking about the "elephant in the room": Woody Allen.

Farrow, now 35, married and mother of a 4-year-old, talks about her debut young-adult fantasy fiction novel "Hush" and explains how the "escapism" of the book has helped her work through trauma in an Elle interview, published Wednesday.

"For any fans of fantasy, whether they’re in my position or not, it’s fun escapism, a way to step outside of yourself and your problems, and, I don’t know, think about dragons for a while," Farrow said in the interview. "I’m not trying to escape who I am – I’m fine with who I am. I mean, it’s taken me a while to get here, but I can say with (some) degree of certainty that I’m okay.”

Farrow alleged when she was 7 years old, and has maintained since, that Allen, her adoptive father and an Oscar-winning filmmaker, now 85, molested her in the attic of her mother's Connecticut estate in 1992.

Dylan Farrow
Dylan Farrow

While she has made progress in overcoming trauma, she said she "can’t completely disentangle myself from it.” Doing publicity for her book has meant a lot of “talking about the thing that I like least in the world. It’s always going to be the elephant in the room.”

Allen has long denied Dylan's accusations. Multiple investigations in Connecticut produced mixed results about what happened. Criminal charges were never filed, and Allen continued making movies, including his newest film, "Rifkin’s Festival," which was selected to open the San Sebastián film festival in Spain.

Allen also had an affair with and married one of Dylan's sisters, Soon-Yi Previn, who was adopted by Farrow and then-husband Andre Previn in 1978. Allen and Previn have been married 16 years and have two daughters.

Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi Previn on May 11, 2016 for the screening of the film "Cafe Society" during the opening ceremony of the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes.
Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi Previn on May 11, 2016 for the screening of the film "Cafe Society" during the opening ceremony of the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes.

“I don’t feel like I have a father,” Dylan Farrow says in the interview. She joke-shrugs about her family situation. “There’s no support group for people whose sisters marry their fathers. Or is he my brother-in-law? And is she my stepmom? I’ve got to joke about it!”

Writing the book has helped her find a way out of darkness. “I never thought I would be writing about a dystopia in a climate where that would feel relatable,” Dylan said.

The book, according to Elle's description, centers on a teen girl, Shae, who is trying to solve the murder of someone she loves in a world stricken by drought and a pandemic, and gripped by a despotic leadership class that uses magic to spread fake news and control the populace. By trying to solve the murder, Shae learns she can wield magic, too.

Farrow hasn't used the name "Dylan Farrow" in her real life since she was 8 but adopted it as her pen name because she wants to psychologically distance herself from the events of her tumultuous early years. She won't say what her name is now.

"I had to develop an entirely new skill set with different coping mechanisms based around having spoken out (about Allen) and the aftermath of that,” she says. “The difference was, I was doing this on my own terms.”

Farrow, who now lives on mother Mia Farrow's 88-acre estate with her husband, daughter Evangeline, and their two dogs, will be included in an upcoming HBO series "Allen v. Farrow." The series (premiering Feb. 21) will examine Allen and Mia Farrow’s relationship and its fallout, including Dylan's allegations that he sexually abused her.

Mia Farrow said she saw her daughter in the "Hush" heroine. “I see Dylan’s courage against monstrous thoughts and monstrous people and powerful foes,” she said. “Being disbelieved is part of the assault.”

Dylan Farrow
Dylan Farrow

In the Elle interview, Farrow addressed going public for the first time in a 2014 New York Times essay aimed at dissuading Academy Awards voters from awarding Allen an Oscar for his movie, "Blue Jasmine."

When Allen was up for an Oscar, Farrow said she was outraged that "no one cared" about her accusations. Her friends and her therapist warned it was a bad idea to speak out.

“Obviously, I didn’t listen to those people,” she says. “The thing is, in a lot of ways, they were wrong. But in a lot of (other) ways, they were right. In 2014, nobody really did give a crap. And I did undo all the progress I’d made.”

Woody Allen attends a special screening of "Wonder Wheel" on Nov. 14, 2017, in New York.
Woody Allen attends a special screening of "Wonder Wheel" on Nov. 14, 2017, in New York.

Three years later, she wrote another essay, which questioned how scores of Hollywood men could be called out for their alleged sexual misconduct but Allen was still making movies.

"I guess I’m just way more vindictive than anybody gave me credit for,” she said about the 2017 Los Angeles Times essay. “And I say that because it’s not entirely a bad thing. Vindictive women can get stuff done.”

When Allen's "Café Society" was opening the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, Farrow's brother Ronan Farrow wrote his own essay supporting his sister’s claims for The Hollywood Reporter. The following year, he wrote an exposé in The New Yorker about allegations of sexual misconduct by Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein, and later shared a Pulitzer Prize for helping spur the #MeToo movement.

“Dylan was absolutely a voice of conscience on this issue,” Ronan said by email to Elle. “I learned a lot, watching her come forward with her story, and maintain it consistently, year after year – even when I and others around her weren’t sure it was worth the blowback.”

"Without Ronan’s support, I probably would’ve felt completely adrift,” Farrow said. “He’s one of the most important people in my life.”

Farrow said she still struggles at times, “but on the whole, it does feel healthier to cope with it on that level rather than just ignore it. I think it’s also more helpful to the people in my life: my husband, my family, my friends. They know what’s going on now. I’m not just freaking out because I saw some random movie poster. There’s a method to the madness.”

Mia Farrow and her son journalist Ronan Farrow arrive for the Time 100 Gala in New York on April 23, 2019.
Mia Farrow and her son journalist Ronan Farrow arrive for the Time 100 Gala in New York on April 23, 2019.

She said she is steadily improving since she began speaking out, despite triggers and emotional upheaval at times.

“I try to take the mindset that I have a 100% success rate of getting through every single one of the panic attacks I’ve ever had; none of them have killed me,” she said.

Dylan Farrow attends the TIME 100 Gala in 2016.
Dylan Farrow attends the TIME 100 Gala in 2016.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dylan Farrow talks Woody Allen allegations, details new novel