Woody Allen spoke Tuesday with actor Alec Baldwin during an...

Woody Allen spoke Tuesday with actor Alec Baldwin during an Instagram Live interview. Credit: Getty Images / Dimitrios Kambouris

In an Instagram Live interview conducted by Alec Baldwin Tuesday, Woody Allen discussed writing humor, breaking into The New Yorker magazine, why his next movie might be one of his last and the reason he penned a snarky dedication to his wife in his new short-humor collection, "Zero Gravity."

"Believe it or not — it sounds so ridiculous — I could write before I could read," filmmaker-author Allen, 86, told Long Island-native Baldwin, 64, in the nearly hourlong interview, subsequently posted on Baldwin's regular Instagram account. "I would make up stories; I couldn't write them down, but I could write. And I became a comedy writer because I had a sense of humor." His main inspiration became writer S.J. Perelman — "the icon that I aspired to [emulate]. I'm really like a road-company Perelman."

Allen credited his ex-wife, actor Louise Lasser, for the impetus to write for The New Yorker. "Like everyone in my generation, we all aspired to be published" there, he said, adding that while "in my 30s, I guess," he wrote a short humor piece "and I was going to send it over to Playboy magazine. And Louise … said, 'This is very good. Send it to The New Yorker.' … And finally she talked me into it and I sent it there and they printed it. … And I was stunned."

The new book's humorously roasting dedication to Soon-Yi Previn, Allen's wife of 24 years, came at her behest, he said. She had seen the affectionate dedication he had planned for his 2020 autobiography, "Apropos of Nothing," and had "said, 'God, you're not going to have that treacly stuff, that gooey stuff. Give me something nasty.' And so I gave her a different dedication [there] … It was not syrupy. I knew not to make a syrupy one here, either. She knows that in a world of comedy … the greatest mark of affection is to … roast the other person. And so I do that with her because she understands and wants it that way." 

The four-time Academy Award winner said his upcoming 50th movie, scheduled to shoot in Paris later this year, might be one of his last.

"When the pandemic came, I was in the house like everybody else … and I couldn't make a movie that I had planned to make," he said. "And after a few months went by, I started to think … 'I don't have to make a film. I don't have to be cold in the winter or hot in the summer and up at 5 o'clock in the morning and making decisions all day long.' I'm home and there's nothing I can do but my exercise, practice the clarinet and write. … What if I didn't make film? This is a nice way to live.' Then I thought, 'Well, maybe I'll make one or two more' — y'know, I'm 86 years old."

Additionally, he said, "A lot of the thrill is gone, because it doesn't have the whole cinema effect. When I started, you do a film and it would go into a movie house … and people would come by the hundreds to watch it … on the big screen. Now you do a movie and you get a couple of weeks in a movie house … and then it goes right to streaming or right to pay-per-view."

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