French actor Laurent Lafitte had no idea that his Woody Allen rape joke he made at the Cannes opening ceremony would spark this much controversy. During the premiere of Woody latest film, “Café Society,” Lafitte made headlines when he joked, “You’ve been shooting so many of your films here in Europe and yet in the U.S. you haven’t even been convicted for rape.”
The remark was received with gasps and even the film’s star Blake Lively stated that she was offended with what she heard. The Hollywood Reporter spoke with the master of ceremonies where he insisted that the joke was misinterpreted, meant as a comment on “American puritanism” and didn’t know that hours before, Woody’s estranged son, Ronan Farrow, has published an essay about his father’s sexual abuse allegations.
“Not in the room, but after the show, I was told that there were strong reactions. What I’ve learned only just this morning is that Woody Allen’s son made a statement yesterday with accusations [involving rape]. I didn’t know that,” Lafitte confessed. “When I wrote this joke, it was more a joke about Europe and why one of the greatest American directors spent years in Europe, [while Allen] didn’t have to because he wasn’t accused of rape in his own country, compared to Roman Polanski. It was [meant] as a joke about American puritanism and the fact that it is surprising that an American director wants to do so many movies in Europe. I didn’t know about the other stuff.”
The actor revealed that he had written the joke three weeks ago and thinks it’s unfortunate how after working so hard on his show, the Allen controversy is what sticks out. “At the afterparty, [festival director] Thierry Fremaux told me that he went over to ask Woody if he was embarrassed by the joke, but he said he was not. He said, “I thought that guy was funny,’” he explained. “It’s a storm in a tea cup, and it’s a shame, because I tried as much as I could to write something funny every 20 seconds. In a show lasting 45 minutes, this is the only thing that will remain. It’s sad.”
When asked if he would’ve deleted the joke if he had known about Farrow’s essay he replied: “Yes, I would have.”
“I didn’t want to hurt anybody. If I had known [the Woody Allen joke] could be misinterpreted, I wouldn’t have said it,” Lafitte insisted.
You can read the entire interview at THR.