Woody Allen is responding to accusations that he won't hire black actors.
The director was speaking with the New York Observer's Roger Friedman when they broached subject of his casting decisions. Ahead of the April debut of Allen's play about Harlem's Cotton Club, “Bullets Over Broadway," the New York Daily News claimed "Allen specifically requested there be no black gangsters in his musical," citing an anonymous source. Allen's rep told the Daily News his priority is casting "the exact appropriate person for a role regardless of race, which has never been a consideration."
Friedman asked if Allen would ever cast someone like Viola Davis, to which the director responded: “Not unless I write a story that requires it. You don’t hire people based on race. You hire people based on who is correct for the part. The implication is that I’m deliberately not hiring black actors, which is stupid. I cast only what’s right for the part. Race, friendship means nothing to me except who is right for the part.”
Friedman then asked Allen about relationships in his personal life.
“[Chris Rock] loved my work. When I got married to Soon-Yi he bought me a wedding present,” he said. “When I ran into him in Rome, we took him out for dinner. I’m friendly with Spike Lee. We don’t socialize, but I don’t socialize with anyone. I don’t have white friends either.”
Salon noted that Lee was once one of the very people who criticized Allen for his casting choices.
In a 1987 New York Times interview, Lee said: "Woody Allen, he can do a film about Manhattan -- it's about one-half black and Hispanic -- and he doesn't have a single black person in the film."