Scarlett Johansson is not lacking attention or
press coverage. In fact, she’s reached a point where there’s as much talk about
her talent as her hotness. Don’t get me wrong, her looks definitely merit the
magazine covers and commercial endorsements, but her acting abilities will keep
her working a lot longer.
This week she takes a comedic turn in the Woody
Allen murder-comedy ‘Scoop,’ – a role Allen wrote specifically for her.
Johansson plays the naïve and slightly nerdy aspiring journalist Sondra Pransky.
She’s mysteriously contacted by the spirit of a dead reporter (Ian McShane),
and given a scoop on a news story that will make her career.
CHUD sat down with the star (and several other
reporters with a few irrelevant questions) to talk about the film and
re-teaming with Woody Allen.
Q: Is it fun to play someone who is nerdy and not
quite as cool as she wants to be?
It was a great character to play, she’s totally fun. I don’t think that she
wants to be cool, but would rather be some idea of fabulous. She’s such a kind
of loser though, but it was great to be able to play that. I think that Woody
[Allen] had always said that when he was coming up with ideas for the story and
had an idea of it, this was sort of a branch of that idea. He said that it was
kind of like a Judy Holliday in ‘Born Yesterday.’ It’s not like it’s exactly
like that, but she’s kind of a lovable idiot. So it was a lot of fun to play
all her kind of weird mannerisms.
Q: Are you aware of all of those old movies
especially with Woody being a walking encyclopedia of movies?
It’s amazing. He’s seen almost every movie ever made. I have seen a lot of old
films and I’ve seen a lot of films period. I’ve seen a lot more old films for
sure, and I’ve been watching films since I was a kid. My mom has also seen
every film ever made. She’s got an incredible film history and so I’ve
inherited some of that.
Q: A lot of times you get seen in that old school
Hollywood way. Do you think that was a purer time and how does it compare to
Well, it depends on what period you’re talking about. I think that in a lot of
ways I believe we’ve kind of regressed to a more conservative way of thinking
and that reminds you sort of like The McCarthy Era. It seems like anyone who is
anti-war anything is unpatriotic or something like that. It’s bizarre or
un-American. I don’t think that the two, being patriotic and being un-American,
are the same thing. I don’t know what one has to do with the other, but I think
that we live in a very conservative time all around, as far as gay marriage and
people’s opposition to that. I think that on one hand you see things now that
you’re just like, “What? That’s not necessary. I don’t need to see that. It’s
vulgar.” Then on the other hand it’s like it’s an incredibly conservative
society that we’re in, but as far as doing things for editorials and stuff, I
just admire that kind of glamour. I think that it’s sexy and beautiful. I think
that it’s a celebration of femininity. But I also think that you can shoot
modern stuff that can be cool.
Q: It sounds like you keep up with politics. What
are your politics?
I think that I’m very liberal minded. My mom is from New York and her parents
are from New York and she’s very liberal minded as well. Not that you inherit
your political beliefs from your parents, but certainly what she was interested
has been something that I’ve kind of admired and what she stood for and what my
dad has as well. But I won’t say that I’m for or against this party or that. I
think that I’m just independently minded.
Q: Do you feel that actors have a responsibility to
speak their minds on world issues and political issues?
I don’t think that actors have any responsibility to talk about anything at
all. Their responsibility is to show up on set, but I do think that as a person
in the public eye if you passionately believe in something, I don’t believe in
forcing your opinion on anyone, but I think that maybe if people think, “I kind
of dig what she does and I’m into her work.” That I can say, “Hey, I found this
place to give some money if you’re interested. Here is a website if you want to
check it out.” Whether it’s USA Harvest or Global Funds or OXFAM, I think that
it’s great. I think that it can really bring a lot of publicity to some smaller
Q: You had to have a lot of energy for this
character which is something that we don’t always see you do. How was doing
that, was it hard?
I have a lot of energy. So, no. I just eat a little breakfast in the morning
and I’m on my way. Also, like I said, this is kind of the way that Woody and I
banter in our own lives. So it was very easy to go from just bantering
off-screen to bantering onscreen. You just start the cameras rolling.
Q: How is it working with him when he’s acting with
you as opposed to just directing you? Is he different when he’s acting with
Well, Woody doesn’t use any monitors when he’s doing anything so when we were
shooting ‘Match Point,’ there might be a lot more circumstances when you might
have to go back and re-shoot something if he was unhappy or it wouldn’t cut
together, but when he’s working with you it’s like he can tell immediately.
We’d be in the middle of shooting something and he would be like, ‘Cut. That’s
not going to work. The energy that we come into the room with has to be
different.’ Or whatever it might be. So that was nice and very convenient I
Q: You’ve been working since you were so young. Do
you see yourself doing something aside from just acting?
Johansson: I can never see myself doing something
instead of acting, but I would love to direct someday and that’s something that
I’ve thought about doing for a long time. I’ve been in this industry for a long
time, more than half of my life really. So it’s definitely something that I
would like to work on.
Q: You have worked with Woody before. Did he
consider anyone else for this part in the movie or was it written specifically
Johansson: Well, if he had then I didn’t know about
it, that’s for sure. I would be very jealous. No. I think that he wrote it for
us to do. When we were shooting ‘Match Point’ we had this kind of nice banter
between us and since I had always admired him as an actor as well as a director
and a writer and a comedian, I thought that it would be great to work together
as actors. So I said, “It would be great if we could work together because we
have such a nice relationship.” He was like, “Alright. I’ll think of
something.” So he thought of ‘Scoop’ and that’s where it came from.
Q: how do you go about picking projects?
Johansson: As far as choosing projects go, I don’t
know. I don’t have any criteria for that. I just do films that I would pay ten
dollars to see. That’s my criteria. That’s it really. If something interests
me, if there is something there like a director that I want to work with, the
most important thing to me is that the script is solid. Even if it’s a great
director and the script is not right then I can’t commit myself because there
are too many chances for a complete disaster. So I make sure that the script is
solid, one that that I think is right and then I move on from there.
Q: For bigger movies like ‘The Island,’ was the
script always changing while you were shooting the film?
Johansson: There were a lot of script changes on
that, but the script for ‘The Island’ was amazing. It was the best science
fiction script that I had ever read. It was great, and I mean, there were plot
points that were kind of reworked, but we worked on a shooting script. So there
weren’t major changes that were made while we were shooting. Usually I think
with a big project like that it’s much harder to switch up things while you’re
shooting. Whereas in ‘Scoop’ or something like that it’s like, “Oh, that didn’t
work. Lets just change it around.” While we were shooting ‘The Nanny Diaries’
we would be like, “Oh, that wasn’t right for continuity. Lets just fudge it and
pretend that this thing happened or make up a little scene here.” Whatever. But
I think that with those big action films you there has to be a full and fluid
Q: How does it make you feel as an actress who
started so young, to hear someone like Woody Allen say things like ‘you have it
all’ and comparing you to Diane Keaton?
Johansson: I think that it’s amazing, quite
unbelievable. I’ve been paying him on the sly and his demands are getting kind
of insane at this point so it’s drying up. But the compliments keep coming
which is nice.
Q: Is there another movie that you’re going to do
with Woody, a sort of trilogy type thing?
[Laughs] A trilogy? I have a crazy hairdo, that sort of thing. Maybe he’ll try
to kill me off. I don’t know what that’s all about. I’m like, “If I have to be
soaked one more time I’m going to soak you.” He’s never soaking wet and fully
clothed. I don’t know what that’s all about. I don’t know. I hope that we’ll be
able to work together in the future or I’ll have to take a job with craft
service on one of his films or his personal assistant or something.
Q: How do you deal with the tabloid culture and
people constantly coming after you?
I completely avoid it at all costs. That’s the only way to deal with it because
once you start getting involved then it’s like the end. You just try to slide
under the door. Mostly it’s just such crap anyway. I hear these stories… My
publicist or whatever will say, “I’ve got to kill this story.” And it’s like
some insane and crazy thing that you’re like, “Who the hell came up with that?”
You have to just ignore those things. It’s when they print something that’s
semi-true that you’re like, “Who the hell told them that?” But that is so rare
that it’s like you just ignore it.
Q: Are you bothered or amused when people say that
they have seen you on gawker.com?
Well, sometimes those stories are true, but what I want to know is who the
person is that goes and spends time to actually write in. I find it to be
completely weird. I would much rather say, to my friend, “Hey, I saw Bon Jovi.”
Or whatever. But to actually type it out and take the time it’s like, Jesus
Christ. I don’t really think about those things. I try not to. I just don’t
like to be followed. That’s disturbing. I don’t like being followed by
photographers when I’m shopping and stuff like that, that’s quite insane to me
and a complete invasion, especially if I don’t invite it in any way. It’s not
like I walk outside in a fabulous outfit in the front of the Mercer Hotel. If
I’m being private I’m being private. Leave me alone.
Q: Is there any reporter that you met to work on
No. I didn’t.
Question: Woody either?
No. I don’t think so. I think that it was his romanticized idea of
investigative journalism, but of course I do get wasted and sleep with the
person that I’m trying to interview and lose the story and everything.
Q: Did you have any conversations with him about
the sexualized way she’s presented in the beginning of the film?
No. It’s funny. I think that Woody comes from an era when that kind of sexual
promiscuity was just accepted. If you look at films like ‘Barbarella,’ you
don’t even think about that. No one was like, “What the hell?” But you watch it
now and you’re like, “What’s going on? This girl is all over the place.” But
there is something quite funny about it and I think that he writes that way,
and as promiscuous and ditzy as she is there is kind of a strength in her
ability to use her sexual kind of wiles to get the scoop or whatever. I think
that it’s humorous. I always think that kind of thing is funny.
Q: Usually in Woody Allen comedies that he’s not
in, there is someone sort of doing Woody. So what was that like?
Johansson: I’ve never done Woody before. That’s how
Woody and I talk to each other, and Woody is from New York obviously. We have
some similarity in our background and when we start talking to each other
that’s how we talk to each other. I could never attempt to try and imitate him
or I would never want to and I would never want to. He’s a seventy year old
man, for God’s sake.
Q: You’ve got two movies now you’ve shot in London.
How is that different from anywhere else?
I absolutely love London. It’s such a great city and they were so welcoming to
us both times and we had such a wonderful crew. I have family there and friends
there so for me it’s like a holiday and especially with the hours that Woody
keeps. He needs to make his dinner reservations and so we all wrap early and
it’s great. I mean, in the summer there is no better place to be. The weather
is beautiful and everyone wants to go out and have a good time. I just love it
Q: Do you get homesick?
Q: Would you ever consider moving there?
I could never consider living anywhere permanently other than New York, but I
would love to have a place there. I mean, who wouldn’t? It would be very
Q: You got to work with Paul Giamatti on ‘Nanny
Diaries’ and I think you are very similar in many ways. Did you find that you
had a lot in common with Paul?
I loved working with Paul. He’s such a great guy, very interesting and funny,
and I found that we got along right off the bat. Seeing him and Bob Pulcini
together is very scary actually. But there is a certain cynicism and sarcasm
and a darkness about Paul, and his sense of humor that I can completely relate
to and I admire because he is incredibly clever and very funny. He is also an
amazing dramatic actor and he plays a real horrible guy in ‘The Nanny Diaries.’
He’s so serious and awful and Paul couldn’t be more completely opposite.