Scarlett Johansson/The Island Interview
by Paul Fischer in New York.A TOUCH OF SCARLETT.
The beautiful 20-year old Scarlett Johansson runs for her life, as a cloneon the run, in Michael Bays The Island. More familiar to moviegoers for hermore quite, character-driven roles in the likes of Girl with a Pearl Earringand the upcoming A Good Woman and Match Point, Johansson is clearly the itgirl of the moment. She talked to an eager media contingent in New York, andPaul Fischer was there.
Q: Just wondered what appealed to you with this particular role, wasit the idea of playing an innocence of all of the contexts of the modernworld and how difficult that was to hold on to when you were doing all thisintrinsic action sequence?
Scarlett Johansson: I mean when I got the script it was just a reallyfantastic script. It was exciting, it was adventurous, it was fun. Youknow of course when you are reading a script and it says slides down a drainpipe or something you dont actually think that is ever going to happenuntil 7.30 in the morning on the day when Mr Michael Bay says just slidedown this drain pipe and then we will do it again from another angle andagain from another angle. So it was a lot of work, as far as playing acharacter that was kind of innocent it was delightful, it was really funcause as an actor you know mentally you get into this state of everythingbeing so new, children, dogs, people, cars feeling in love and physicalintimacy and all of these things being so brand new so it manifests itselfphysically so you do, you get excited and then you feel excited and Ewan andI really fun time with that you know, it was very sweet.
Q: This film it contrasts pretty sharply with the films you havedone as an adult, it is an action adventure film. How difficult was it tomake the decision to do this film and make this entry into action adventure?
Scarlett Johansson: I wasnt difficult it was very easy. I think every filmI have done is very different and I am constantly playing differentcharacters, different kinds of directors, you know I for me I love genrefilms, if they are good they do the trick you kind of are removed from yourlife for a couple of hours and I had just never found one that I thought wasgood enough you know. You figure if you are going to do an action film, ora thriller or a science fiction film you know it had better be the right onecause it is not like you can do tonnes of them, you know and of course whenI heard that Michael was attached to something it was very interesting forme because he does it so well. He is one of about two or three people thatcan do it really well do it right. So I figured if you are going to do ityou may as well do it right. So it was easy for me, I was working on MatchPoint in London and you know they were shooting in a month and I said signme up, it was very easy, no turmoil...
Q: There was undoubtedly a Star Wars moment in this movie and youknow with the planes flying and the zinging and all that did you discussthat with Ewan and did he have a reaction to that ?
Scarlett Johansson: It is sooo exhausting. Yeah it really is, especiallywhen you are imaging that you are trying to escape to save your own life andyou can hear the grip chewing a sandwich next to you, really it is hard.
Q: You seem to be working non stop as youve got Match Point comingfor Christmas, A Good Woman in September or October you are making the newWoody Allen movie now I guess. Are you a clone or a robot or a machine ordo you really have some kind of a life. It seems like you are doing sixmovies a year...
Scarlett Johansson: If I had a clone I would never do the press junket. Nothat way I could sleep in get my eggs Benedicts that kind of thing. But Iam definitely going to take a nice long much needed rest after this one Ihave promised myself that. The problems is once I start to relax for awhile I get very anxious and then I have to do something, so I am eithergoing to have to find some different kind of career path or just go to somefar away Island and have silent torture sessions of myself about why I amnot working. It is hard for me to take vacations, it is.
Q: Since you are filming in London is anything going to be differentnow after what has happened last week, are you worried or concerned aboutit?
Scarlett Johansson: No, of course not. London is a lovely place to be, itis as safe as any and you know the show must go on everybody is truckingalong. We are shooting in Central London this week and will be for the restof the show and I am staying there you know. I was here when September 11thhappened and it was amazing the unity the people had and how wonderful thepolice and fire departments were and the same in London they were so fastacting. That alone is enough to make you feel ok. That threat iseverywhere you go so it is important to not let it change your life.
Q: Have you seen Guys and Dolls?
Scarlett Johansson: I have, I did see Guys and Dolls.
Q: And your verdict?
Scarlett Johansson: It is fantastic.
Q: How is Ewan?
Scarlett Johansson: He is great. You would be so proud of him he is sogreat in it.
Q: Werent you supposed to do that?
Scarlett Johansson: Me? No, no.
Q: Scarlett, youve risen fast in Hollywood. Are you surprised atjust how fast youve achieved such success? And also, do you read aboutyourself in the tabloids?
Scarlett Johansson: Yeah, its very surprising. I never had any expectation. I onlyhoped that and thought when I was younger that Id like to be a workingactor for... forever. But I dont think you can foresee something like this,something like this meaning kind of the hype or success or the fact thatMichael could see me outside of a certain category and say, Shes a youngingénue and has done some more alternative films. The fact that he couldsee me in this was very surprising. It was lovely. It was very nice. As anactor you see yourself in all different kinds of roles. You imagine that youcan play them. But its not always that way looking at it from an industrypoint of view. I really dont patronize tabloid magazines, so if I ever readwhats written about me its either hearsay or maybe somebody has faxed methe article or something like that. But I dont think it really does anygood. I never respond to any of those things, true, not true, whatever. Ifind its better to avoid it because then you wont have to be correcting itin the next weeks tabloids. And so you just sort of let it take its owncourse, unless its horribly and unbelievably untrue and offensive.
Q: Scarlett, can you talk about the physical challenges on this film and were there any near-misses so far as the action scenes?
Scarlett Johansson: Yeah, I almost lost an eye. That was fun. I had a permanently bluenew. That was pretty gross. The problem is that once we were doing thisscene where I had to crawl on the sidewalk. There was so much action goingon in the background. We were in the foreground and in the background itslike a car comes in, the SWAT team gets out, theres an explosion, andthings are going on. What happened was I fell to my knees and in thatinstance I was like, Oh, that hurt so badly! I had to keep crawlingbecause the scene is so organized. It takes 20 minutes to put it all back toplace. The first A.D. is screaming at everybody to get in their places andyou just cant take that time. So you just kind of go through it in agony.And the eye, almost losing my eye, that was really a drag.
Q: Scarlett, were you at all jealous that Ewan got to play this othercharacter and meet his sponsor? And would you like to play a dual characterat some point?
Scarlett Johansson: Who knows?! If it wasnt too unbelievable. But he definitely had agreat time with it. It was so fun to watch. Ewan was so funny in that scenebecause we all hated that character so much. He was so vile and so creepy.It was very funny. And I loved acting with him as that character as wellbecause he was so, so leachy and gross. But (shed play such a role) only ifit were to come up in some kind of realistic (way). I could never think of ascenario. But it seemed like a good time.
Q: Scarlett, since you started so young, if you had a clone, whatsort of career would have the clone do in lieu of your acting career? Andhow did you enjoy seeing Steve Buscemi again?
Scarlett Johansson: Oh, it was great. I love Steve. Hes so, so, so funny and hessuch a great actor. He cracks me up. It was really great to work with himagain and I hope we get to work together again sometime in the future. AndId just have her (THE CLONE) do simple household tasks, folding the laundry maybe prance around in clothing so I could see what I might look like. Youknow, do the grocery shopping, change the toilet paper, things people justdont like to do.
Q: So you wouldnt have her lead an alternate acting career so youcould switch back and forth?
Scarlett Johansson: No, Id rather use her for my own selfish... control.
Q: Scarlett, whos the one person you turn to for professionaladvice and for advice in general?
Scarlett Johansson: My mother. My mom has seen every single movie ever made, ever. Sheis a library of film, I mean unbelievable. She could be a film historian; Iswear. She knows a lot about film and she has incredible taste. She alsohappens to be just absolutely adorable and lovely and caring and liberal.And... I trust her. I trust her. And she trusts me. So it really makes for anice professional relationship and personal relationship. She wants me to dowhat makes me happy. Thats all you can ask for is your parents support,and shes lovely that way.
Q: With everything going on in your life do you feel like you'llknow if you've ever reached your peak?
Scarlett Johansson: You mean will I know if I'm ever fully satisfied? I dont know. I hope to always be searching for ultimate satisfaction until theday that I die. Otherwise, gosh, how boring. I mean, it's good to feelsatisfied, but I never want to stop looking or stop being curious aboutthings. I think that you can get to a point in your life where yourecomfortable with that, but I never want to be comfortable like that, not toocomfortable. I'm saying that now of course as a 20 year old girl. Ask me inanother 35 years and I'll probably tell you that all I want to be iscomfortable. That's my perspective on it now anyway.
Q: What did you think about this subject matter in our current cultureand showed up to get cloned?
Scarlett Johansson: I mean, I thought that it was practical regarding thestory that we were trying to tell. When you see the people coming in lookingto sponsor a clone of themselves that they all look like wealthy businessmenand athletes ,and of course you see Michael [Clarke Duncan]. Michael is afootball player. It's people that we think in our rational minds that couldafford this $2 million or $5 million policy. I thought that it was very muchwhat it was supposed to be. It didn't seem radical.
Q: What do you think that the movie is trying to say?
Scarlett Johansson: I don't believe that movies should deliver messages. Inever pick films based on whatever messages they're delivering. I think thatwhen you leave the theater I think that you question, 'How far would I go totest fate?' But after all when I come out of a film that I've just paid $10to see and spent 15 bucks on popcorn, when I come out of the theater at theend of it I just want to be entertained. I just want to leave and say, 'Thatwas cool. I had a great time. That was a fun experience for me.' I don'treally feel that films necessarily always have to deliver the big picture.That can be so preachy and boring particularly if you find it to beoffensively preachy. So I just hope that people have a great time when theywatch it. It's a trip.
Q: What do you like most about this film?
Scarlett Johansson: It's nice because it slowly starts to build, it getspsychologically creepier and creepier as it goes and then once you hit thatpoint where everything is revealed and you see Michael and he's strugglingfor his life it's so horribly disturbing, it's so, so, so disturbing thatfrom that moment on it just doesn't stop and that's the ride that you take.
Q: Are you going to do the Arthur Miller film?
Scarlett Johansson: I am.
Q: When do you start on that?
Scarlett Johansson: May I think.
Q: IS 'A Good Woman' coming out?
Scarlett Johansson: Yeah. I think that's coming out in September or inOctober.
Q: Is the Woody Allen you're filming now a comedy?
Scarlett Johansson: Yeah.