THE SEXY AND TALENTED ACTRESS PREPARES FOR HER
DIRECTORIAL DEBUT AND THE BIGGEST JOB OF ALL – MOTHERHOOD
This has been the best year in the life and career of Scarlett Johansson. Engaged to French journalist Romain Dauriac and expecting their first baby, Scarlett is roughly seven months along and has been enjoying some of the best reviews of her career for her work in the films, Don Jon and Her. Johansson’s sultry, smoky voice in the film, Her, will forever change the way you think about your computer operating system.
She jumped back into the sexy latex suit as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, the mysterious anti-hero who is now fighting alongside Steve Rogers in the sequel blockbuster, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
“I like the way Black Widow has been developed as an intelligent and complex female character,” Johansson said. “Instead of being sexual ornaments to the male superheroes, Black Widow has been given an interesting storyline and she has the kind of depth that allows you to do serious work and that’s why audiences have responded to these films.”
With Chris Evans back in the role of Steve Rogers/Captain America, there was plenty of chemistry between him and Johansson, as they joined forces in the latest installment of the Marvel Comics film franchise.
Meanwhile, Johansson looks forward to the May 1st release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the highly anticipated sequel to the billion-dollar grossing The Avengers (2012). Although it may be hard to imagine that the forlorn young woman in Lost in Translation has morphed into a Marvel Comics superhero, but the 29-year-old Johansson has pulled off the ultimate strategic career coup, by enjoying success in both studio blockbusters, as well as smaller indie projects, while also serving as a muse to Woody Allen, in films like Match Point and Vicki Cristina Barcelona.
Scarlett’s amazing combination of talent and beauty attracted plenty of attention performing her first full frontal nude scene in her recent film, Under the Skin, the indie sci-fi thriller directed by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast), in which she plays an alien being who has taken human form and roams Scotland in search of victims she needs in order to survive. Glazer achieved an unsettling ambience by shooting many of the scenes undercover, on the streets, with a disguised Johansson beguiling unwitting members of the public.
Also this May, audiences will see Johansson reunited with her Iron Man co-star, Robert Downey Jr. making a cameo appearance in Chef, the newest film by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Swingers), in which she plays a super-hot hostess alongside a struggling cook, played by Favreau.
In person, Scarlett Johansson seems to have acquired a newfound sense of calm that most observers are attributing to her relationship with Dauriac and the excitement of expecting her first child. The couple divide their time between Paris and New York and are expected to be married later this summer. In the earlier part of the couples’ relationship, Johansson had this to say about how she has experienced jealousy for the first time: “Look, I’m with a Frenchman. I think jealousy comes with the territory. But I’d rather be with someone who’s a little jealous than someone who’s never jealous. I didn’t think I was a jealous person until I started dating my current, my one-and-only... Maybe in the past I didn’t have the same kind of investment. Not that I liked my (former) partner (s) less, I just wasn’t capable of it or caring that much.”
VSMARTY: Scarlett, your career really seems to be ramping up these days. How satisfying is that for you?
JOHANSSON: I love my job more now than I ever have... I have a greater understanding of my work and a greater appreciation for it. I feel most confident now. At the same time, I never lose the enthusiasm I have for working. It’s been 20 years, but I still have those moments when I walk around a set going: “Wow! We’re making a movie!”
VSMARTY: What is different about your approach to your work now, as opposed to ten years ago, when Lost in Translation had such an impact?
JOHANSSON: I have a greater understanding of my work and what I have to put into it now, (so) it just changes the decisions I make. I’m able to make braver choices because I feel braver now and have had more life experience. I have a greater confidence in my ability, and I’m curious about taking on the unknown, but it’s a lot greater now. It’s something to note for myself, maybe some kind of achievement or milestone to be here 10 years (after her screen breakthrough) and making films that are representative of the work that I’ve put into my own performance and it’s just a moment to look back on. I’ve done a lot since.
VSMARTY: Are you surprised to have found a home in the Marvel superhero film franchise?
JOHANSSON: I would never have expected this, but it’s been a really pleasant experience. A lot of the superheroine films that were made in the past were not very good, but Joss (Whedon) has got away from the hair-flipping, hands-on-hips kind of posing and created a very credible, professional, dangerous, and mysterious superhero in Black Widow. I’m very fortunate to be a part of these Marvel films, because they have a lot of substance, actually. Even though the size of the films are just gigantic, the characters and the conflict and inner turmoil between all of us is really complex.
VSMARTY: What’s your perspective on your Black Widow character?
JOHANSSON: I love playing her and it creates a positive image of a sexy, intelligent, and formidable young woman. She’s not an ornament, she’s a vital presence in the films, and not simply there because she struts around in a tight-fitting suit. Her physicality is a big part of her image, but she’s also a smart and imposing kind of woman.
VSMARTY: How do Captain America and Black Widow work together in Winter Soldier?
JOHANSSON: It’s been two years since we last teamed up and now we’re both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Audiences are going to learn a lot about her past and her origins. We’re fighting on the ground. It’s not like we have these superpowers that we use and fly around. We have a short hand between us. We fight in a similar style. It’s very much a working relationship. Chris and I have known each other for 10 years. It’s our fourth movie together and a complex relationship forms between our characters… They have their guard up and they have their trust issues. They also
have both been working for “the man” for their entire professional careers. Now that this unexpected friendship forms between them, they’re starting to question what they want and are looking deeper inside themselves to better understand their own true identities.
VSMARTY: Are Captain America and Black Widow natural allies because they rely on their human talents, rather than extraordinary superpowers?
JOHANSSON: I suppose so. They fight in a similar way and although they’re not a natural pairing in terms of their personalities, they can work together more easily, because they’re not like other superheroes flying around in the air. They have a working relationship that develops into something more after a series of unfortunate events brings them closer together and their friendship becomes more intimate. That creates a situation where audiences will be able to see more sides to them and that’s the kind of deeper connection that Josh wants to create and has been laying the foundation for in the previous films.
VSMARTY: Is it always a challenge working inside the latex suit?
JOHANSSON: (laughing) Latex is always a big commitment! It’s not just that you have to train hard for several hours a day and lose weight, but then you’re dealing with the complex choreography for the fight sequences and that takes a lot out of you until you’ve started to get used to the daily routine. But you’re never going to get in better shape in your life!
VSMARTY: You’re also going to be seen in Under the Skin, a very different kind of film, where you play an alien traipsing across Scotland?
JOHANSSON: My challenge was having to abandon all of these normal human instincts we have: our doubts and fears and judgements, and start from the very beginning, have a very pure intention. This character is much more of a metamorphosis – it’s a transformation.
VSMARTY: What was life like, working in Scotland?
JOHANSSON: Shooting in Scotland was difficult. The weather was harsh and it was like Scotland was trying to expel us from the land, but it certainly added to the atmosphere. In addition to working in Glasgow, we also shot a lot in absolute wilderness, and that kind of harsh environment adds to the atmosphere of the film. But what was really interesting was the way the film was shot, where I was often filmed interacting with real people and there was this “candid camera” element to it. I often didn’t know exactly where the camera was, myself.
VSMARTY: Do you think a lot of undue attention will be paid to the film because of the nudity involved?
JOHANSSON: You know, I’m not a nudist by nature. I think like everybody – I have a lot of feelings of self-consciousness, but you know, (in this film) I couldn’t be self-conscious. I think I had to just let all of that kind of judgements of my own self settle and sort of fade away, and it was challenging. But I think with a partner like Jonathan, it really helped, because I knew that he was watching my performance and that’s what he was really looking for, as opposed to gratuitous nudity or something like that. Hopefully the audience sees the intention behind the movie... I felt very protected by Jonathan.
VSMARTY: You’ve tried to steer clear of very sexualized roles, haven’t you?
JOHANSSON: Yes, although sometimes it’s hard to define that... Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to collaborate with cosmetics campaigns and clothing campaigns, to be photographed by the best photographers, and make beautiful pictures and all of that stuff. I’ve been able to use it to my advantage in some ways. In other ways, it can be very frustrating at times, because I’ve always thought of myself as being a character actor, and you can be placed in this specific stereotype that the media puts you in. But the fact is that a lot of the work that I’ve done isn’t necessarily overtly sexual.
VSMARTY: What was your reaction when you saw yourself for the first time in Under the Skin, when it was shown at the Venice Film Festival?
JOHANSSON: That’s when I felt really exposed! (laughing) ...It was horrible, because I had this awful chair that was, you know, there was nobody in front of me… I was on a kind of a mezzanine or something, and not only did I feel vulnerable watching the movie, but I was just sitting there like this kind of sitting duck watching all over the audience, and I could see people having all these different reactions. It was strange. I think that’s the last time I’ll watch this movie with an audience. It’s too naked, literally, and also figuratively, of myself!
VSMARTY: You’re going to direct your first film in the near future, aren’t you?
JOHANSSON: Yes. We’re going to shoot it this summer. It’s an adaptation of a Truman Capote novella called Summer Crossing. It’s something I’ve been working on for about six years... It’s a film about social divide, about the loss of innocence. It’s a bittersweet love story and a Valentine to New York. It takes a really deep heartbreaking look at that kind of first, most potent love. All of us know that that can shape your heart for the rest of your life in some ways.
VSMARTY: Are you still a huge fan of living in New York?
JOHANSSON: Yes. In New York I can walk everywhere and no one ever bothers me. People in New York, when they see a celebrity, they look, shrug their shoulders, and continue on. I live a relatively normal life: ride the subway, go to the grocery store, walk down the street. I don’t live in hotels, or get bodyguards. And, if ever I have a problem, I just jump in a taxi.