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Woody Allen on five iconic actresses he'd love to direct

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Judy Holliday
Everett Collection

If you had to choose one director to bring out a career performance in any actress, you can’t do much better than Woody Allen. During his amazing 45-year career as a director, he’s worked with many of the best, and Oscar has always been impressed. Diane Keaton, Penélope Cruz, Mira Sorvino, and Dianne Wiest all have trophies from their collaborations with Allen, to say nothing of the nominated performances from Samantha Morton, Judy Davis, Geraldine Page, and others.

In Midnight in Paris, Allen’s comedy-fantasy about a 21st-century writer (Owen Wilson) high on the nostalgic fumes of 1920s Paris — out today on home video and digital download — it’s Marion Cotillard and Rachel McAdams who get to dance with the master auteur. Actresses have always leaped at the opportunity to be Allen’s muse, and at this point of his career, any role in one of his films is an honor capable of luring even the hottest young ingenues.

But if Allen could go back to a different age — Midnight in Paris-like — what legendary Hollywood actresses would he most have wanted to cast in his films? We asked the director to name his Top 5, and he responded quickly, as if he had the list waiting in his pocket. “They were all fabulous actresses with their own styles,” he wrote in an e-mail about his selections. “But however different those styles were, they all worked on the screen and you believed them.” Click below for the leading ladies of Allen’s cinematic dreams:

Vivien Leigh (Gone With the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire): “A great actress and sexy.”