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Woody Allen on 'Really Stupid' Questions and Language Barriers

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Jun 20, 2012 | 8:54am EDT

Woody AllenWoody Allen hasn’t let go of the things that make him tick — during a press conference for his newest movie, To Rome with Love, the writer/director made jabs at all of his longstanding favorite topics: relationships, intellectualism, the film industry, and, of course, death.

Allen, and several members of his Rome cast — including Alec Baldwin, Penélope Cruz, Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig, and Alessandra Mastronardi — comprised a panel at the Regency Hotel in New York City on Tuesday, entertaining questions from the industry of entertainment journalism… a community that was the target of some more of Allen’s humorous criticism.

Allen lambasted some of the questions that he is bound to get on what he calls “those red carpet things,” citing one recurring query in particular: “The amount of times that I … have been asked, ‘Is Scarlett Johansson your new muse? Is Penélope Cruz your new muse?’ Those questions are … silly. You know, if I make one picture with somebody, they assume that I have a muse, or that I want a muse, or that that person wants to be my muse. That’s one of the millions of questions I’ve [gotten] that are really, really stupid.”

On the topic of his newest movie, Allen and the cast entertained questions about why the setting Rome was chosen for the stories in this particular film. “Those certain stories that occurred to me I thought were sort of indigenous to Rome … Something with opera, something with the paparazzi … These are all things that, to me, are very, very Roman.”

Baldwin contributed by singing the city’s praises: “Rome has more of a sense of humor than a lot of the places I’ve been,” adding, “Every cliché I’ve heard about, ‘When you spend a long time in Rome…’ is true.”

Additionally, Allen adds that shooting movies abroad is “where the money comes from,” explaining that several foreign nations have told the filmmaker, “If you make a picture here, we’ll pay for it.”

ALTWhen you shoot a film that takes place in Rome — or, in the case of Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona — there is the matter of a language barrier that you’d imagine would cause a bit of a conflict. According to Allen, however, who “do[esn’t] speak any Italian or Spanish,” he has no problem letting his actors and actresses control their foreign language scenes.

“You don’t have to know the language. … You just see them acting, and they’re clearly convincing in their body language.” Allen continued, “When I did Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Javier Bardem and Penélope were ad-libbing all over the place. I didn’t understand anything … But it didn’t matter to me. I could see that they got it right.”

Immediately after Allen’s statement, Baldwin jokingly remarked, “And after all that ad-libbing, [they] got married.”

Allen and Cruz might have a relationship of mutual trust now, but according to the actress, their first meeting “was so peculiar.” Cruz explained, “I went into his office, and … the meeting was ten seconds. He told me, ‘Nice to meet you. I know you will be great in this film. I’ll see you on the set.’ And then I never saw him again until we were on set.”

After being accused by Mastronardi of giving her the same treatment, Allen admitted, “I never speak to anyone.”

Allen will also appear in John Torturro's developing film Fading Gigolo, about which the accomplished writer/director is especially pleased, because, as he states, "I’ve always been open to acting in other people’s films, but no one has ever asked me." Catch To Rome with Love in theaters on Friday, June 22.

[Photo Credit: David Edwards/Daily Celeb]

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To Rome with Love

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