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Daphne Merkin

Introducing Soon-Yi Previn

As controversies tumbled around her, the daughter of Mia Farrow and wife of Woody Allen stayed silent for decades. No more.

Once, she was seen as a victim, her youth and relative innocence taken advantage of by a powerful, much older man who sucked her into his vortex. Or, alternately, she was a Lolita, a seductress who wittingly betrayed the Mother Teresa–like figure who’d saved her from life in an orphanage. These days, Soon-Yi Previn is seen as an accomplice of sorts, who, in the wake of renewed accusations by Dylan Farrow that Dylan’s adoptive father, Woody Allen, sexually molested her, has stood by Allen even as his reputation has plummeted and his once-revered films have been reassessed in the light of the #MeToo movement. Throughout this time, Soon-Yi herself, the slim Korean-born woman with a curtain of dark hair who showed up occasionally at Allen’s side in grainy news images, has said virtually nothing, her sphinxlike presence adding to the mystery of what actually took place. He did what? She’s how old? And whose daughter?


There is a way in which Soon-Yi’s very opaqueness enabled people to project their own fantasies onto her as if onto a blank screen. And, as it turned out, the series of events that came upon the heels of the couple’s controversial romance quickly took on the aspect of a cosmic soap opera, in which gossip mutated into mythology and mere hunches about someone’s guilt or innocence calcified into die-hard convictions.


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New York Magazine | September 16, 2018.

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