The actress and comedian, who's currently starring on Showtime's American Gigolo, recounted Monday on The Howard Stern Show how she turned both down a role in one of Allen's movies and a meeting with Jackson over their respective abuse allegations.
In the case of Allen, the film was 1999's Sweet and Lowdown, with Sean Penn and Uma Thurman. "I had done an HBO special where I said everything about him," O'Donnell told Stern. (Spoiler: She did not have good things to say about Allen.) "And then I got on my show. So it's the first year of my show and I get a call and they said, 'He wants you to be in [Sweet and Lowdown]. I said, 'Please send him my HBO special.' And the woman said, 'Oh he's already seen it.' And I said, 'Send it anyway with two words: F--- and no.' And I sent it to him."
According to O'Donnell, Allen's team persisted in asking after her to play a role despite her comments. "They called back and said, 'He really wants you to do it. He'd like to talk to you about it,'" she recalled. "I said, 'I'm not doing it. I'm not working for him or with him and being associated with him.'"
Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Carlo Allegri/Getty Images Woody Allen, Rosie O'Donnell, and Michael Jackson
O'Donnell went on to say that a similar situation occurred with Jackson: "We were at a wedding and his guards came over and said, 'He would like to speak with you.' I said, 'I'm not interested… I really don't want to.' And finally they said, 'He's going to come over here.' I said, 'Well, tell him not to because I'm a member of the Children's Defense Fund and I believe every accusation against him.' And he didn't come over."
Allen was accused of sexually abusing his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow when she was 7 years old. A bitter custody battle between Allen and his ex Mia Farrow followed, and the allegations were investigated. Allen was never charged with a crime and has maintained his innocence over the years, while Dylan Farrow has stood by her accusations. Most recently, her story was at the center of the HBO docuseries Allen vs. Farrow.
Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993 and settled a civil suit. He was later accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy and was taken to court in 2005. Jackson was acquitted on all counts and denied any allegations of abuse up to his death in 2009. A 2019 HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland, explored allegations against Jackson.
O'Donnell told Stern she felt that Allen in particular was bothered by the fact that "he couldn't use his weight to entice someone over to his side." She added, "He had a lot of people under his spell."
According to O'Donnell, the situation led to a friendship between her and Mia Farrow. "She heard that story and she called me to see if it was true and I said, 'Oh yes, it's true.' And she started to cry and said, 'Even my closest friends didn't stick behind me during this and that here you did your HBO special and now you did this, I'm forever in your debt.'" O'Donnell recalled. "I said, 'You're not in my debt at all, but you are my friend and I admired you for years and what you've done with your life.'"