50 Greatest Woody Allen Characters

Fielding Mellish

The Character: Mellish is so hot for the politically-minded Nancy that he becomes a reluctant revolutionary to prove his credentials in Bananas .

Best Line: Told he has a chance to die for freedom, Mellish responds, "Yes, well, freedom is wonderful. On the other hand, if you're dead, it's a tremendous drawback to your sex life."

How Woody-Esque? He might start a revolution, but he'd much rather be airing his complaints to his psychiatrist.


The Character: The troubled ex-girlfriend of Sandy Bates in Stardust Memories , whose mental disintegration led to her being institutionalised.

Best Line: "There's a doctor here who thinks I'm beautiful or interesting."

How Woody-Esque? Misogynistic in conception but heart-breaking in Charlotte Rampling's performance, Dorrie shows Allen's intermingling of cynicism and affection.


The Character: Max Von Sydow plays this reclusive artist in Hannah And Her Sisters , whose condescending attitude towards lover Lee sends her into an affair with her sister's husband.

Best Line: On Auschwitz: The reason they can never answer the question ‘How could it possibly happen?’ is that it’s the wrong question. Given what people are, the question is ‘Why doesn’t it happen more often?’”

How Woody-Esque? Who better than Von Sydow, a regular for Allen's hero Ingmar Bergman, to play a character at the more waspish, intense end of Woody's character spectrum?

Danny Rose

The Character: Two-bit talent agent - the eponymous Broadway Danny Rose - whose one successful client gets him involved with the Mob.

Best Line: "You know what my philosophy of life is? That it's important to have some laughs, but you gotta suffer a little too, because otherwise you miss the whole point to life."

How Woody-Esque? Proof that Allen could stray out of his comfort zone as an actor - Danny is no intellectual, but his romanticism is pure Woody.

Marshall McLuhan

The Character: The real-life media philosopher who realised that "the medium is the message," brought into Annie Hall by Allen to berate a pseudo-intellectual abusing his work.

Best Line: "You know nothing of my work! You mean my whole fallacy is wrong. How you got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing!"

How Woody-Esque? Who else would even think to include someone like McLuhan in his film?


The Character: Russian pacifist - or, technically, coward - determined to avoid the Napoleonic Wars in Love And Death .

Best Line: "There are worse things in life than death. I mean, if you've ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman, you know exactly what I mean. The key here, I think, is to not think of death as an end, but think of it more as a very effective way of cutting down on your expenses."

How Woody-Esque? The first Allen film set entirely outside America confirms that Woody will always be Woody wherever he is.


The Character: Mae Questel essays every Jewish mother joke available in New York Stories , as Woody wishes she'd disappear but she reappears in the sky to broadcast her disapproval of her son.

Best Line: "I was just discussing your problem with these nice people."

How Woody-Esque? At least some of this has to be based on personal experience.

Sandy Bates

The Character: A movie director hounded by fans who prefer his "earlier, funnier movies." Real life or the premise of Stardust Memories ?

Best Line: "To you, I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the loyal opposition."

How Woody-Esque? Allen has often played writers in his films, but this is the only time he played an actual film director.

Juan Antonio Gonzalo

The Character: Spanish artist (played by Javier Bardem) whose charismatic presence brings a wedge between the titular stars of Vicky Cristina Barcelona .

Best Line: "I'll show you around the city, and we'll eat well. We'll drink good wine. We'll make love."

How Woody-Esque? Rugged, manly and seething with passion - well, one out of three ain't bad.


The Character: Samantha Morton made her name (and earned an Oscar nomination) as the mute who turns out not to be so shy when she falls in love with jazz guitarist Emmet Ray in Sweet And Lowdown .

Best Line: None, obviously - but Morton beguiles with her face alone.

How Woody-Esque? Hattie stands out amongst all of Woody's fast-talking gals.