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Woody Allen on magic, movies, and life's meaning

Friday - 7/25/2014, 6:00am  ET

This image released by Sony Pictures Classics shows director Woody Allen, center, with actors Emma Stone, left, and Colin Firth on the set of "Magic in the Moonlight." (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Classics, Jack English)

The Associated Press

Woody Allen's "Magic in the Moonlight" stars Colin Firth as a stage magician and Emma Stone as a young medium whose self-proclaimed powers he's trying to debunk. Allen shared some thoughts with The AP about magic, filmmaking, and the meaning of life --or, in his view, the utter lack thereof.

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ON PEOPLE CLAIMING TO HAVE MAGICAL POWERS:

I don't think it's a real thing. I wish it was. I always find those things nonsense and exploitative and hypocritical and offensive and I have no patience with it. You know, in the 1920s, these people were always able to fool very educated people -- but oddly enough they could never fool magicians, like Houdini. They were the ones who exposed them.

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ON KNOWING WHEN A MOVIE WILL BE A HIT:

I have no idea. I'm always disappointed in each one when I am finished with it. So I don't think about it -- I just make the film. I could never figure out why more people didn't like "Hollywood Ending." It was a funny idea that I was a blind film director, you know, psychosomatically blind. The jokes were good and I executed them well. So I'm shocked when people come, and when they don't come.

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ON LIFE'S (LACK OF) MEANING:

You're just a human being on the face of the earth, and you're an insignificant agglomeration of cells and neurons and eventually that expires ... and it's terrifying and so unpleasant that we dress it up in any possible way we can, from the church to making a billion dollars to being an alcoholic to painting pictures and thinking, "Well, I have a legacy and my paintings are going to live on after me," which gives you some sense that you're going to live on, but you're NOT going to live on -- you're going to be dead, and the paintings are just decayable objects that will eventually be gone, and so the message is an extremely grim one.

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ON WHETHER EXPERIENCE MAKES YOU BETTER:

I wish that were true. In an art form, you start from scratch all the time. You gain a little technique over the years, but you don't get better where it counts. Inspirationally -- that's in the lap of the gods.


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