Pop Culture | Celebrities | 90s

Woody Allen Married His 27-Year-Old Step-Daughter Because "The Heart Wants What It Wants"

While being known as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Woody Allen has led a life of both triumph, and shame.

The acclaimed writer, actor, and producer faced a public backlash like no other when his marriage to Mia Farrow began to fall apart at the seams, bringing forward accusations that shook the reputation of the once-beloved Hollywood icon.

While both Allen and Farrow were dating (the pair were never formally married), they shared custody over their biological child, Satchel, and two adopted children, Dylan and Moshe.

At the time of their relationship, Farrow had five other children, including Soon-Yi Previn, who was adopted after being rescued from difficult circumstances in Korea.

By all accounts, Allen and Farrow had a happy 12 year relationship together. In that time, Farrow appeared in 13 of his movies, along with many of her relatives.

While they never moved in together, instead living on opposite sides of Central Park, Farrow herself said that Allen was an "excellent father" because of the amount of time he spent with his children.

Though these words now hang ominously, following the events of later years. In early '90s, it was revealed that Allen had begun an affair with Previn several years prior. Farrow was the one to discover the affair, and it led to a bitter divorce and breakup of the shared family.

The filmmaker spent much of his time visiting his family at Farrow's apartment, and got to know his former partner's children quite well. Much of his behavior has now been called into question, but it appears that there was a shared attraction between Previn and the man many deemed to be her stepfather.

Friends of the family said that they sensed the 20-year-old had formed a crush on Allen over the course of several years of knowing him, and that he "seemed to delight in it."

One family friend reported that "Woody started taking her to basketball games, and Mia would reportedly tell her to stop dressing up for them as if she were going to a disco."

While Allen and Farrow were having relationship issues towards the beginning of the '90s, it seems that the actress had no idea that her daughter was carrying on an affair with her partner, until she stumbled upon staggering evidence of his infidelity and what she describes as "immoral behavior."

Farrow discovered several photographs of Previn fully nude in Allen's apartment, with her daughter in sexually explicit poses. She felt betrayed and horrified, ending the relationship with him outright.

Orion Pictures

Allen maintained that Previn had asked for the photos to be taken as she had an interest in modeling, but did not deny the allegations.

Following the split, Previn moved into Allen's apartment and the two of them formalized their now public relationship.

Previn maintains that their relationship was consensual, and reject's her adoptive mother's narratives of grooming that took place. She took to the press that year to give her side of the story.

"I'm not a retarded little underage flower who was raped, molested and spoiled by some evil stepfather — not by a long shot," says Previn. "I admit it's offbeat, but let's not get hysterical."

Allen also came out in defense of his actions, distancing himself as her father figure at first, though this would eventually change. In the wake of the scandal he portrayed them as lovers who met under unusual circumstances.

"The heart wants what it wants. There's no logic to those things. You meet someone and you fall in love and that's that," he said. "I could have met her at a party or something."

The two of them have stayed together for over 20 years, getting married in Venice in 1997.

Some have called their relationship into question, citing a movie Allen once wrote and starred in about an older man dating a college girl, telling himself it is just a fling, until they eventually fall in love.

They have recently appeared in headlines again, with Allen offering more explanation as to the nature of their relationship. Whereas previously, he attempted to separate any filial link between himself and his wife, he now employs some rather strange terminology.

“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,” he said.

Previn has always agreed with this point of view, "To think that Woody was in any way a father or stepfather to me is laughable."

"I started the relationship with her and I thought it would just be a fling. It wouldn’t be serious, but it had a life of its own. And I never thought it would be anything more," said Allen, very coyly. "And the age difference didn’t seem to matter. It seemed to work in our favor actually."

Now, the two of them share two adopted children, and it appears that Allen and his fan-base have moved past this very quizzical time of his life.