Mike Tyson vs. Woody Allen in media bout


CANNES -- Talk about diametrically opposed mystiques but uncannily similar public personas onstage at back-to-back news conferences here.

In the first, a rather wan-looking Woody Allen responded with a few of his trademark witticisms to the oft wacky or tacky questions from the press, while in the latter, boxing poobah Mike Tyson parried queries about his life and passions, as well as his favorite boxing movie. (He's seen most all of them, starting, he said, with reels from 1892 and culminating with "Raging Bull.")

Allen was flanked Saturday by Rebecca Hall and Penelope Cruz, two of the stars of his Out of Competition film, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," while Tyson took the stage with the director of the eponymous bio documentary, James Toback, which screened in Un Certain Regard.

As pressers go in Cannes, these were two of the more evocative given that Allen is an auteur icon in France. As for Tyson, he might have sparred verbally (and on a few occasions physically) with countless journalists in and around the boxing ring, but as he admitted Saturday, he was "kinda intimidated" by the cameras and the attention here on the Riviera.

Perhaps because his latest movies are set in Europe, the presser for Allen's picture was chockablock, while Tyson's was more sparsely attended, drawing a seemingly different set of journalists.

Asked if he, like the characters in his movie, had fantasies about a menage a trois, Allen decided not to duck. "It's hard enough to get one person," he mused. "In real life, most people couldn't survive such a complication. In a film you can have larger-than-life characters."

He also debunked theories that the process of putting a film together is so esoteric: Why a movie in Barcelona? "Some people called me from Barcelona and asked me if I wanted to make a film there -- and that they were interested in financing it. And I have a fondness for cities in Spain."

For his part, the former heavyweight champion seemed strangely vulnerable, though also dignified. He generally held his own, never losing his cool. Asked simply how he was doing, Tyson said: "I'm doing OK. How are you doing?" But he wasn't sucking up or at all hostile.