June 22, 2009

Woody won’t adapt films for stage

Woody Allen says he's not opposed to Broadway stage musical adaptations of his films, but insists he has no interest in writing or even seeing them.

I myself would have no interest in that whatsoever. None. Producers call all the time and they want to make 'Bullets Over Broadway' and 'Purple Rose of Cairo' into musicals. They did propose these things and I don't care if they want to and they make some deal. They can. But I have no interest in it. No interest in writing it, seeing it, knowing about it, Allen told reporters in New York recently, while promoting his latest movie Whatever Works.

(Adapting my films for the stage is) just something that would not interest me at all, but some of them, I think, would make good musicals in the right hands, he added. (But,) the odds of doing a good musical, even if you have a book that's viable to begin with, the odds are not in your favor. So, what would probably happen is they would get the rights to one of my movies and make it into a terrible musical and everyone would be angry at me.

For now, Allen is busy promoting Whatever Works, a big-screen comedy that marks his return to New York after shooting his last three pictures in Europe.

It's very expensive to make movies in New York, Allen noted. I work on a very low budget and I can't afford to do it. I'd like to do it. I'd like to make movies in New York because I live here and I love it. But, surprisingly, New York and California, which is the film center of United States, theoretically, are too expensive.

Whatever Works, which opened in select U.S. theaters Friday, is about a curmudgeonly New Yorker, played by Larry David, whose life is turned upside down by the arrival of a young runaway, played by Evan Rachel Wood, and her religious, but estranged parents, played by Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Jr.

Allen said he initially wrote the film years ago and, although it might seem like David's role was once intended for Allen to play, it was actually penned with Zero Mostel in mind.

That is not a part that I could have played even if I was younger, Allen insisted. I could not have played this part ... I had originally conceived this thing many years ago for Zero Mostel -- and Larry is able to do this kind of sardonic, sarcastic, vitriolic humor and get away with it because there's something, obviously, built into him that audiences like ... You know Groucho Marx had this. They were never offended by Groucho. They were offended if he didn't insult them, he told me once, and Larry has this thing where he can get away with that. If I was to do that, I wouldn't be as graceful at it and you would think that I was nasty, if I was insulting people and proclaiming my own genius and saying that people were cretins, you would not like me, but certain people can get away with it and he's one that can.

Allen said he stashed the script away in a drawer when Mostel died and didn't take it out until there had been talk of a possible actors strike and he needed something he could update fairly quickly and shoot.

The filmmaker said that when a casting director suggested David give the Mostel role a try, he agreed completely it would be like mother's milk to him.