Ronan Farrow talks Woody Allen and the advice he gave Ashton Kutcher about having famous parents

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Ronan Farrow says he advised Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis to give their kid a different last name. (Photo: Getty Images)
Ronan Farrow says he advised Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis to give their kid a different last name. (Photo: Getty Images)

As the child of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen — not to mention the subject of rampant speculation that his mother’s ex-husband Frank Sinatra is his actual biological father — Ronan Farrow knows more than most about what it’s like to have famous parents. Speaking on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, the journalist shared how he drew on his experience when giving advice to Ashton Kutcher, who at the time was expecting his first child, daughter Wyatt, with Mila Kunis.

“I remember having a conversation with Ashton Kutcher and I think it was maybe just before Wyatt, their kid, was born,” Farrow told Shepard and co-host Monica Padman. “And I remember saying one practical piece of advice that I have, because I think Mila was pregnant at the time was, you know, ‘You guys do you, but I kind of wish I had had a not-famous surname.’”

Farrow added that he was “inspired” by the example of actor Troy Garity, whose parents, actress Jane Fonda and activist Tom Hayden, chose an alternative last name. (For the record, it appears that Kutcher and Kunis did not follow suit for either of their two children, Wyatt and Dimitri.)

The Catch and Kill author also admitted that his background has given him a “chip on my shoulder for doing work that I cared about and wanting to be recognized for that.”

“It’s the most impossible kind of shadow to outrun,” he said of his family’s notoriety, particularly in light of the scandal that erupted after his mother discovered the affair between Allen and Farrow’s adopted sister, Soon-Yi Previn, who subsequently married the Annie Hall director. “There’s lots of people who deal with the shadow of famous parents of one kind or another — Lord knows there’s worse crosses to bear — but the particular species of that that I had to deal with which was a kind of generation-defining sex scandal.”

Farrow is the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen (pictured in 1986). (Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Farrow is the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen (pictured in 1986). (Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Shepard also asked Farrow about the “void” left by being estranged from Allen, whom his sister Dylan has accused of sexual abuse.

“I think I never had a positive father figure around enough to feel on a conscious level a sense of loss there,” Farrow responded. “It would probably require more therapy than I’ve had ... I am not aware of that sense of loss in me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Certainly, in the cocktail of things that drive me, I don’t know, I’ve been seeking validation from someone ... “

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