Entertainment Weekly: How does Barcelona compare to New York and London as a cinematic character?
Woody Allen: It’s highly cosmopolitan, full of old places and beautiful old streets and incredible old architecture. And also, a very bustling modern kind of place that’s like a perpetual Mardi Gras. You come home at 4 o’clock in the morning and every place is still going strong.
You wrote this film with Penélope Cruz in mind. What had you seen her in?
Allen: Only [Volver]. It was the only thing I ever saw her in. I was overwhelmed by how beautiful and sexy she was, and what a strong screen personality she had.
Atonement director Joe Wright famously obsessed over every motion and detail in his film’s passionate love scene. Are you from that school?
Allen: No, I’m an imperfectionist. I like to let the actors go and do what they want to do. They’re not stupid, and 99 percent of the time, they get it right on the nose.
Any theories why your films are so popular in Spain, despite the language barrier?
Allen: I don’t know what my appeal in Europe has ever been. It’s always surprised me. I grew up loving European cinema of the ’50s and ’60s so much that perhaps the sensibility or the rhythm of those films has gotten into me without me consciously imitating them, and in some way, I’m reproducing some quality that resonates with the European audience.
After you filmed your last three movies abroad, I feared you were boycotting New York until the Knicks right the ship, but I hear you’re filming here soon.
Allen: I love New York, and I’m filming an untitled comedy-romance here, starring Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, and Patricia Clarkson. Hopefully it will be funny. Only I can ruin it.
Steve Daly, Jeff Jensen, Chris Nashawaty, Missy Schwartz, Jessica Shaw, Benjamin Svetkey, Adam B. Vary, Josh Wolk