This interview makes me want to go back to bed and hibernate for six months. New York Magazine did an exclusive interview with Soon-Yi Previn, Woody Allen’s wife. Soon-Yi was the adopted daughter of Andre Previn and Mia Farrow, and she was – she claims – in college when her affair with Woody began. Soon-Yi rarely makes public statements or gives interviews, so the piece is notable in that way – because this is the most in-depth piece I’ve ever read about who she really is and her side of the story. I also believe that just like we believe Dylan Farrow, we should believe Soon-Yi Previn. You can believe two people at once: you can believe that Woody Allen abused Dylan, and you can believe – as Soon-Yi Previn and Moses Farrow have claimed – that Mia emotionally and physically abused her children too. You can read the full Soon-Yi interview here. Here’s part of what Soon-Yi says about Mia’s abuse:
How Soon-Yi feels now: “I was never interested in writing a Mommie Dearest, getting even with Mia — none of that,” Soon-Yi tells me quietly but firmly. “But what’s happened to Woody is so upsetting, so unjust. [Mia] has taken advantage of the #MeToo movement and paraded Dylan as a victim. And a whole new generation is hearing about it when they shouldn’t.”
She disliked Mia from the start, when they first met at a Korean orphanage: “There was a big excitement and hoopla around her. And she came to me and she threw her arms around me to give me a big hug. I’m standing there rigidly, thinking, Who is this woman, and can she get her hands off of me? She didn’t ring true or sincere.”
Mia always told people that Soon-Yi was an idiot: “I do have a little learning disability,” Soon-Yi says almost bashfully. “I’ve never spoken about it, because Mia drummed it into me to be ashamed about it. It comes out in spelling, and I had to work much harder in school. But I was driven and interested, and I wish I’d had a tutor the way some kids do for homework… Mia used to write words on my arm, which was humiliating, so I’d always wear long-sleeved shirts. She would also tip me upside down, holding me by my feet, to get the blood to drain to my head. Because she thought — or she read it, God knows where she came up with the notion — that blood going to my head would make me smarter or something.”
Mia was into “arbitrarily showing her power”: slapping Soon-Yi across the face and spanking her with a hairbrush or calling her “stupid” and “moronic.” Sometimes, according to Soon-Yi, Farrow lost it completely, as when she threw a porcelain rabbit that her mother had given her at Soon-Yi (“She never really liked it,” Soon-Yi wryly observes. “That’s probably why she threw it at me”), smashing it to pieces and startling both of them. “I could see from the expression on her face that she felt she had gone too far. Because it could have really hurt me.”
Used as maids/assistants: Soon-Yi also says she and her adopted sisters were used as “domestics,” while Farrow kept busy rearranging the furniture, ordering from catalogues, working on her scrapbooks, and talking to her friends on the phone. “We did the grocery shopping, starting in third grade, for the entire family,” Soon-Yi says. “Lark and I wrote the list of everything that we needed for the house, we paid for it, we unpacked it. When I went to Ethical Culture, I had to pick up my siblings … In Connecticut, Lark cooked, and we cleaned the bathrooms, cleared the dishes, washed up, and did the sweeping. When Woody started coming up to Connecticut, I ironed Mia’s sheets.”
And on and on. The whole piece is an long, interesting read and I found myself somewhat invested in Soon-Yi’s personal story. I believe some of what she cites as abuse from Mia was just… Mia not being a great mom, and Mia being sort of screwed up as a person too. I also believe that Soon-Yi would never have ended up with Woody if Soon-Yi hadn’t been so starved for affection, love and acceptance by any older paternal/maternal figure. What’s said in this piece is the same thing everyone always says: we’ll truly never know. Soon-Yi has her truth, Dylan has hers, Ronan has his, Moses has his, and we’ll never know how all the kids seem to have such wildly different memories. I also feel like… Soon-Yi has a right to tell her story. Speaking of, Ronan released a statement.
Statement on New York magazine, which has done something shameful here: pic.twitter.com/xGeQP341OG
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) September 17, 2018
Photos courtesy of WENN.