His stock high, Woody Allen will return to acting
Woody Allen is going through a career resurgence of sorts, with his "Midnight in Paris" poised to attract a wider audience than any film he's directed in the past 25 years (and there have been a lot of films in those 25 years).
On Monday morning, the 75-year-old director said he'd soon make himself visible in another way. Allen confirmed in a press release that he would have a role in his new movie "The Bop Decameron." The film, which begins shooting in July, strings together several romantic vignettes in Rome, the filmmaker's latest stop on his European tour. It attracts the usual mix of top-tier cast members (Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg -- indeed, is there an actor who was born to star in a Woody Allen movie more than Jesse Eisenberg?).
"Decameron" will mark the first time that Allen has starred in one of his own movies since "Scoop" five years ago, and it's hard not to notice a parallel. Back when that movie was being made the director was also undergoing a career revival, his darkly psychological "Match Point" garnering what at the time was his biggest audience in nearly two decades.
It's impossible to know the degree of connection between the popularity of "Midnight in Paris" and his willingness to again appear in front of the camera. But his return to acting certainly comes at an opportune time, with filmgoer goodwill for Allen higher than it's been in a long while.
Of course, Woody doesn't go away even when he goes away. In "Midnight," Owen Wilson's Gil Pender channels Woody, and Larry David two years ago played the Woody character to the hilt in "Whatever Works." Coming after all those stand-ins, the sight of Allen on the big screen will provide a fitting metaphor for his current career status: Just when you think he's disappeared, you realize he's been here all along.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Woody Allen, right, directing Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams on the set of 'Midnight in Paris.' Credit: Roger Arpajou/Sony Pictures Classics