Mariel Hemingway: I Was “Naive” When Woody Allen Invited Me to Paris at 18

Mariel Hemingway talking more about Woody Allen on Today show
Mariel Hemingway says she was "naive" when her Manhattan director Woody Allen asked her to go to Paris with him when she was 18; plus, she opens up about her troubled childhood in a family that was "self-medicating pain" and had "an inability to communicate" Rob Kim/Getty Images; Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Mariel Hemingway may have seemed worldly as a teen, but it was all an act. As she told Savannah Guthrie on the Today show on Thursday, April 9, she was the very definition of an ingenue when she rose to stardom in director Woody Allen‘s 1979 film Manhattan.

“To be quite honest, Woody Allen treated me wonderfully,” the actress, now 53, shared of the filmmaker. “I invited him to come to Idaho to visit…I thought, he showed me Manhattan, and I’m going to show him Idaho.”

As detailed in Hemingway’s memoir Out Came the Sun, Allen flew to Idaho and suggested they take a trip to Paris together when she turned 18. The Oscar winner wrote that she suspected he “had a kind of crush” on her, but the implication of his proposal didn’t register “in [her] naive mind” at first, she told Guthrie.

“See, I played a character who’s really sophisticated, but that wasn’t the Mariel Hemingway of Idaho,” she explained, referring to her role as Allen’s much-younger love interest.

Manhattan movie
Woody Allen plays harmonica to Mariel Hemingway in a scene from the film ‘Manhattan’ 1979. United Artists/Getty Images

Uncomfortable with the ambiguousness of the trip, the teen told her parents she didn’t want to go. “Basically, I just said, ‘Look, I don’t think I can go to Paris, because I don’t think I’m going to get my own room,'” she recalled to Guthrie.

Out Came the Sun is one of two new memoirs by Hemingway; she also wrote a young adult version called Invisible Girl. Both detail her troubled adolescence in an even more troubled family. (According to the Associated Press, seven relatives, including grandfather Ernest Hemingway and sister Margaux Hemingway, have died of apparent suicides.)

“That is the time when I was most confused,” Hemingway told Guthrie of her youth. “I named [my book] Invisible Girl because I felt like I was invisible when I was a child. Even though I loved my family, I didn’t quite understand where I was growing up.”

She added: “My family, god love them, they were wonderful, but they were self-medicating pain and [had] an inability to communicate. So there was a lot of fighting, there was a lot of drinking, and I kind of chose to be the cleanup girl. I was going to fix everything, I was going to make everything okay.”

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