Woody Allen Details “Paternal” Dynamic With Much Younger Wife Soon-Yi

Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn
Woody Allen spoke about his wife, Soon-Yi Previn Rob Kim/FilmMagic

Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn‘s relationship has long been the subject of controversy and public interest, and one that Allen himself has kept largely quiet about. The 79-year-old Oscar winner, however, gave rare quotes about his 44-year-old wife in a new interview with NPR.

Allen opened up to the public radio organization about his career and full life ahead of the wide release of his new drama, Irrational Man. He reflected on his dynamic with Previn, whom he infamously got to know because she was the adopted daughter of Allen’s longtime love, Mia Farrow.

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The filmmaker was prompted to discuss Previn when asked about his celebrated classic Annie Hall and its message that love fades over time. He explained, “Relationships are the most difficult thing people deal with. They deal with loneliness, meeting people, sustaining relationships. You always hear from people, ‘Well, if you want to have a good relationship you have to work at it.’ But there’s nothing else in your life that you really love and enjoy that you have to work at… If you feel that you have to work at it — a constant business of looking the other way, sweeping stuff under the rug, compromising — it’s not working.”

Allen has seen his fair share of relationships that didn’t last, including two previous marriages and long-term relationships with Farrow and Diane Keaton. According to the actor, his time with Previn, however, has been far from work.

woody allen and soon-yi in 1990
Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn in 1990 John Roca/NY Daily News via Getty Images

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“I lucked out in my last relationship,” he said of Previn, whom he publicly started dating when she was in her early twenties, and married in 1997 when she was 27. “I’ve been married now for 20 years, and it’s been good.” 

“I think that was probably the odd factor that I’m so much older than the girl I married,” Allen said, recognizing the fact that has drawn widespread attention to his marriage. “I’m 35 years older, and somehow, through no fault of mine or hers, the dynamic worked. I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me, and I was happy to give her an enormous amount of decision-making just as a gift and let her take charge of so many things. She flourished. It was just a good-luck thing.” 

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