“He really wears his heart on his sleeve, he’s a big hugger,” says Owen Wilson about Woody Allen, his director on this year’s surprise box office and critical hit, Midnight in Paris. And then Wilson pauses for effect, and lets out a piercing, debunking “No-o-o.” The famously unforthcoming director (actors often talk of getting absolutely NO feedback on his sets) is the subject of American Masters -- Woody Allen: A Documentary, premiering this Sunday and Monday on PBS.
Along with Wilson, the talking heads on the Robert Weide doc include Allen’s Match Point and Vicky Christina Barcelona star Scarlett Johansson, fellow New York director Martin Scorsese, funny guys Larry David and Chris Rock, and Allen veterans Sean Penn (Sweet and Lowdown) and Naomi Watts (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger). And, of course, there’s Diane Keaton, Allen’s Annie Hall muse, who muses thusly: “On the one hand he’d be brilliant, and his insights were amazing. But on the other hand, he’d be an idiot.”
Allen is interviewed, too, talking about the myth and the man on the two-part American Masters show. Expect Allen and his Midnight in Paris cohorts to be more visible and vocal over the next month or so, as the awards-season gears start grinding. Allen’s 41st feature as director is also his most successful at the box office (it’s earned $55.5 million, domestic), and Sony Pictures Classics is on the hunt for Oscar gold.