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Then 16-year-old model Babi Christina Engelhardt entered into a secretive eight-year affair with Woody Allen in 1976 — and their relationship would mirror the one from one of his most famous movies.
But today, amid the #MeToo movement and repeated public debates about the filmmaker’s past alleged sexual wrongdoings, Engelhardt feels differently about the lopsided relationship that inspired Manhattan.
In 1976, 16-year-old model Babi Christina Engelhardt embarked on a hidden 8 year affair with Woody Allen. Now, amid the #MeToo reckoning and Allen’s personal scandals, she looks back with mixed emotions on their relationship and its unequal dynamic https://t.co/GHiLjheOuR
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) December 17, 2018
The actress told The Hollywood Reporter that while Allen may not have explicitly asked her age, she told him she was still in high school and living with her family in rural New Jersey. And yet their relationship quickly turned physical and was intimate within weeks, she said.
Engelhardt is hesitant to fully admonish Allen for the time they spent together and holds herself largely responsible for remaining in the relationship.
“It’s almost as if I’m now expected to trash him,” she told THR. “What made me speak is I thought I could provide a perspective. I’m not attacking Woody. This is not ‘bring down this man.’ I’m talking about my love story. This made me who I am. I have no regrets.”
A book Engelhardt wrote of her time with Allen points to an unequal power dynamic between the two, however. From their first private encounter (where he quizzed her on the meaning of life and challenging her to a chess match, eventually culminating with him making out with her), the terms were dictated by Allen.
A few years into their arrangement, Engelhardt says Allen told her he wanted to introduce her to his new girlfriend, — she believed that was her title — a woman 14 years her senior, named Mia Farrow.
“I felt sick,” Engelhardt wrote in her memoir, according to THR. “I didn’t want to be there at all, and yet I couldn’t find the courage to get up and leave. To leave would mean an end to all of this. Looking back now, that’s exactly what I needed, but back then, the idea of not having Woody in my life at all terrified me. So I sat there, patiently, calmly trying to assess the situation, trying to understand why he wanted the two of us to meet.
“It wasn’t until after it was done when I really had time to think of how twisted it was when we were together … and how I was little more than a plaything.”Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter