With ‘Wedding Story’ by Noah Baumbach and ‘Jojo Rabbit’ by Taika Waititi, his spin-off ‘Black Widow’ by Avengers and the coat of the most profitable actress in the world, Johansson is not afraid to say what ‘she really thinks of Disney and her. plans to lead.
When Scarlett Johansson met director and screenwriter Noah Baumbach for lunch in 2016 to talk about a role, she was in the middle of a private ordeal, divorcing her second husband, Frenchman Romain Dauriac. Baumbach, who was unaware of Johansson’s split, was impatient to discuss an unusually revealing film he was writing. The tragicomic story would explore the terrain that Baumbach encountered as a child of divorce, while ending his marriage to Jennifer Jason Leigh and via stories of friends, judges, lawyers and mediators – the fighting hideous, mercenary lawyers, the melancholy moments of wondering if things could be different.
Before Baumbach explained why he thought Johansson would be perfect for the role opposite Adam Driver, the actress shared what was going on in her marriage. “It totally caught me off guard,” says Baumbach. “I was like, ‘Well, you’re going to either hate it or like it. It may not be exactly the head space you want to put yourself in, or maybe it will heal. ” ” The film, Marriage story, turned out to be the latter. “We talked a lot about the real experience of divorce because I was in the middle of the process,” says Johansson. “We talked about becoming parents and our parents. The expectation that comes with being in any type of relationship and the disappointment that can result.”
Johansson, 34, tells this story in early August on the set of Marvel’s Black Widow outside London, where she has lived with Rose, her 5-year-old daughter with Dauriac, for five months. After a morning of combat training, she arrives for an interview in a paneled conference room at Pinewood Studios wearing an Avengers t-shirt, her hair in a messy bun, a gold chain with the name Rose on her throat. It’s an eventful time for the actress: this fall, Johansson, who was never nominated for an Oscar despite critically acclaimed performances in films such as Lost in translation and Match point, stars in two price contenders, Marriage story for Netflix and Taika Waititi Jojo rabbit, for Fox Searchlight, both screened at the Toronto Film Festival. When Black Widow opens its doors in May, it will be the first female extravagance to launch the summer box office season. She is also preparing to send Rose to kindergarten in New York and marry her fiancé, Saturday Night LiveIt’s Colin Jost.
In person, the actress is not supervised and insured, even on thorny subjects – actors playing characters of different races (who have sparked a heated debate) to whom she supports the president for the reasons for which she stands at sides of Woody Allen. She apologizes that her answer to a question sounds “sparkling” (pretentious) but never asks for forgiveness for her opinions.
“How do I feel about Woody Allen?” Johansson lets the question hang for a moment. Since the #MeToo movement re-examined Dylan Farrow’s allegations of sexual abuse against his father, much of Hollywood has distanced himself from Allen. The filmmaker has long denied the claims, but many actors who have worked with him, including Michael Caine, Timothée Chalamet and Greta Gerwig, have publicly expressed regret at doing so, and Allen has been unable to find a distributor film maker since Amazon canceled his contract in 2018. Allen directed Johansson Match point (2005), Scoop (2006) and Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and has played a key role in shaping her career as one of the most wanted women in Hollywood. After a beat, Johansson makes it clear that she disagrees with many of her peers. “I love Woody,” she says. “I believe him and I will work with him anytime.”
Johansson continues, “I see Woody whenever I can, and I have had a lot of conversations with him about it. I have been very direct with him, and he is very direct with me. He maintains his innocence, and I believe it. ” To the question of whether this position seems difficult to express in a cultural environment where the emphasis is again and strongly on the belief of women, Johansson answers: “It is difficult because it is a period when people are very lively, and that’s understandable. We had to make things happen. And so people have a lot of passion and a lot of strong feelings and are angry, and rightly so. It’s an intense period. “
Johansson is active in women’s issues – at the 2018 Women’s March in Washington, she delivered a passionate speech on the importance of family planning and women’s health and called James Franco, who wore a Time’s Up pin. to the Golden Globes a few days before Los Angeles Times published an article with five women accusing him of sexual misconduct. (Franco denied the allegations.) “How can a person publicly support an organization that helps provide support to victims of sexual assault while privately attacking people who have no power?” she said in the speech. “I want to get my pin, by the way.”
Johansson became involved with Time’s Up in the early days of the organization after Natalie Portman emailed him about it and was one of the original signers of the Time’s Up announcement letter and donors of the Time’s Up legal defense fund. “It was almost as if you had found something you didn’t even realize you needed,” says Johansson of the conversations she started having with her female colleagues. “It was when I first understood what the word” trigger “really meant. Now, it’s part of the mind, but it was like, “Oh. Oh, the thing I feel. This is what triggering means. I did not know. So, you no longer had to take it. “
In Jojo rabbit, Johansson plays Rosie, a single mother in Nazi Germany who hides a Jewish girl in her house. Rosie is the moral compass of politically provocative satire, in which Waititi portrays an idiotic (and imaginary) Hitler to laugh and Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson are particularly incompetent Nazis. “He’s such a warm and comfortable character,” says Johansson of Rosie. “I wanted her to be playful and just a really creative and positive person who was in the middle of her life, who had a zest for life … so you miss her when she is not there . ” Waititi says he modeled the character of Johansson, a single mother, on his own mother and other independent women like her raising their children alone in the neighborhood where he grew up in Wellington, New Zealand. Although Johansson is the rare sane character in comedy, she is always there to make people laugh, a task for which Waititi feels underused. “She’s so funny; I’ve always been amazed that people haven’t really taken advantage of that,” said Waititi. “If you get to know her, it seems really obvious that she should do more comedy.”
Shortly after Disney announced the acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox, Johansson was at a dinner with Disney board members Avengers Castmates and Disney frames. “Disney executives said,” We are delighted to Jojo. “They had just acquired it,” she said. I said, “How’s it going to be?” Because Searchlight has made a lot of subversive films. It’s getting harder and harder to try to find a home for something more quirky or subversive and push the boundaries. I thought, “There is no way that Disney brings[[[[Jojo rabbit]outside. … It doesn’t belong to that [Disney] family.’ “Johansson’s colleagues reassured her,” she says, noting: “Whether it’s Pixar or Marvel, the most important thing is that when Disney acquires a working business, they let the studio continue to have their own style. . “The creative freedom of this studio remains, the DNA of the studio remains intact. Ultimately, when Jojo rabbit went [to Disney], it made no difference, which was cool. Because I feared that it was. “In fact, Disney is so optimistic Jojo rabbit CEO Bob Iger will host a private screening of the film as part of his Oscar campaign as part of his support for Fox Searchlight.
After making eight Marvel films and with another on the way, Johansson knows the Disney world as well as any actor. She takes a closer look Black Widow, the first Marvel film she produced as a frame, providing commentary on script, director and casting decisions. To keep the summer opening slot usually reserved for male movies, Johansson says, “The movie has a big punch. If this slot is only for movies that have a big punch, then we’re in for a good one. , good space. “It also has parity with its male payment counterparts. Johansson will earn more than $ 15 million for Black Widow, similar to the fares of Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth for playing Captain America and Thor, respectively. “Money is a taboo subject of conversation,” she said, when asked about her salary. “But I would say, yes, I’m on an equal footing with my male cohorts.”
One of the most moving scenes in Avengers: Endgame for Marvel fans is coming – spoiler alert! – when the character of Johansson jumps to his death to save the world and prevent Hawkeye from Jeremy Renner, the eternal will of Black Widow, they want or will not be friends with chemistry, to do it himself. Johansson first learned that Black Widow was going to die End of Game when Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige called her to announce the news when they were about to start production. Avengers: Infinity War. “The end result was sad, but I was delighted to die with honor,” she said of the scene. “It seemed in character that she would sacrifice herself, of course for humanity but in fact for her friends, for the people she loved. It was bittersweet.”
Black Widow, directed by Cate Shortland (Traditions), is a prequel to End of Game, catching up with Johansson’s character, Natasha Romanoff, after the events of Captain America: civil war. The director who produces the film “is somewhat liberating,” says Johansson. “I feel like I am in control of the fate of this film, which gives me a lot more peace of mind,” she continues. “I know her better than anyone. What was her childhood like? What is her relationship with authority figures? This character is grainy and multidimensional but has a lot of trauma and led an unexamined life. In order to operate at this elite level, she probably had to push back a lot. “
The actress says she does not know what projects she will undertake after Black Widow but has an eye to move behind the camera. “Before, I focused more on my acting career,” she says. “Now, I would happily take the time to develop something to lead. I have been actively searching for a long time and just couldn’t find the right fit.”
On Johansson’s right hand is a tattoo of a bracelet with Thor’s hammer, a tribute to his Danish father, an architect. In her left ear, there are nine piercings – “I actively avoid vintage movies, so I don’t have to remove all of my earrings,” she says. Born and raised in Manhattan, Johansson started playing off Broadway when she was a child and booked her first movie role in Rob Reiner’s film North, at the age of 10, his mother being his manager. Critics have taken note of his supernatural balance in Robert Redford The one who whispers in the ears of horses at 14 and Terry Zwigoff Ghost world at 17 years old. But it was Sofia Coppola Lost in translation at 19, she cemented Johansson as an actress whose subtlety as a performer matched her youth. As his critical good faith grew, so did Johansson’s power at the box office. Thanks in large part to the Marvel films but also to other hits including the science fiction film of 2014 Lucy ($ 463.4 million worldwide), she is the most profitable actress in the world and the third most profitable actor, period, with her films having won more than 14 billion dollars at the world box office.
When his career started to take off with Lost in translation, Johansson was the subject of a multitude of profile stories that seemed to have been written by a leper uncle, with passages lingering on his pillow lips or his hoarse voice. “Everything used to start, like ‘Her blond hair … she crossed a room’ or something. It wasn’t just me, it was any actress,” says Johansson. “Now you cannot write about anyone’s physical appearance.” There was another quality, more interesting, projected by Johansson from a young age: the desire to displease. “Being a nice woman is being malleable to everything the person in the room expects from us,” said Laura Dern, who plays Johansson’s character divorce lawyer in Marriage story. “Be a young woman. Be seen and not heard. The character of Scarlett is:” I am here and I know who I am. I’m not here to make you like me. “It’s a very impressive energy in a woman.”
It is a quality that has caused frustration in some communities in the past, as in a recent interview with As if magazine, in which she said that “she should be allowed to play anyone, or any tree, or any animal because it’s my job.” The interview reopened a debate on actors representing characters from other races, genders and sexual identities, a controversy for Johansson since she played a Japanese character in the source in 2017. Ghost in the shell then removed from a role of transgender man in the film Rub and shoot in 2018 amid criticism from trans activists. After his recent interview ignited the affair, Johansson issued a statement that “not all actors have had the same opportunities as I have.” When asked if she wanted to clarify her position further, Johansson refused. “There are other voices that have more to say about this that probably need a microphone,” she said. “Yeah. I think I’m done talking about this.”
Characteristically, Johansson resisted pressure from his political friends to adopt a wait-and-see attitude towards the Democratic primary. “Other Democrats have told me,” Oh, it’s very early to support someone, “said Johansson. “This kind of thing worries me because I don’t feel so early. I say to myself” really? “It is disconcerting that there is no clear candidate at the moment.” Johansson says she supports Elizabeth Warren. “She feels like someone who is thoughtful and progressive but realistic,” says Johansson. “It’s not like his campaign is making those crazy and far-fetched promises that seem impossible to fulfill. There is a strategy out there.” She says she will be involved in the presidential election, anyone who faces Donald Trump. “I will be there, but I need myself,” says Johansson. “If I can help with voter engagement, either by doing some sort of PSA campaign or by actively trying to involve people in the registration and voting process. I really believe that if people have indeed voted, our government would look like what it is supposed to do, but people don’t vote. It puzzles me. “
If moviegoers have already fantasized about seeing Marvel’s Black Widow and Star Wars“ Kylo Ren goes there in a fight scene, they have the opportunity Marriage story. But it comes after Johansson said the most inflammatory phrase in the history of romantic relationships: “So … I thought we should talk.” What follows is a 10-minute virtuoso argument between Nicole of Johansson and Charlie of Driver, a playwright whose talent for observing human behavior seems to have a giant blind spot when it comes to the needs of his wife, an unfulfilled actress. Baumbach spent two days filming the scene in an indescribable Hollywood building, a process that required Johansson and Driver to go through the howling match dozens of times, hitting Baumbach’s physical marks while reaching emotional peaks and valleys .
Although Driver measures 6 feet 2 inches and Johansson is 5 feet 3 inches, they parent like boxers of the same weight category. “You want to feel like two people are having their match, and size has nothing to do with it,” says Driver. “Scarlett has a unique strength for her. She just has a height, I mean a sort of ladder, for her. She walks into a room and you notice it.” At the end of the film, Nicole and Charlie arrive at a sort of relaxation, one that Johansson was filming in his own divorce at the time. “There is a kind of fantasy in the end,” says Johansson. “If they could have been different people in one way or another, it could have worked, but that’s not how life is.”
Despite the imperfections of marriage, Johansson has not lost confidence in the institution. In November 2010, the third of five times, it hosted Saturday Night Live, she appeared in a sketch sending MTV Teen mom and 16 and pregnant. Dressed in a tiara and a red babydoll dress over a fake bump, legs spread on a hospital bed, Johansson said, “I’m rich. I’m beautiful. And I’m completely dilated. And it’s going to be the biggest party already! ” The man who presented him with this sketch was then the writer Jost, who left a positive impression on Johansson with his assurance in the middle SNLintimidating backstage atmosphere. “It was a stupid parody he had written, and he was partially directing this segment that we had to do,” says Johansson. “This is my first memory of him. He seemed very confident at the time. I don’t know if he felt like that, but in this environment, if you’re not confident as a writer, your things are never produced. ” Jost, now 37, will become co-host of “Weekend Update” in 2014 and one of the main writers for the series in 2017, when Johansson is again the host and the two start a romance. They took turns to serve as “plus one” in everyone’s public life – she frequented the Emmys as her date, he hit the Avengers: Endgame first like hers.
Johansson says that despite her fame, she and Jost are able to maintain their privacy, take her daughter to the park and take the subway to New York without being disturbed. “I insist on it,” she said. “You have to carve out this life. I don’t engage in social media. I’m a very private person. If you ever see a paparazzi photo of me, know that I was definitely harassed and that I was living a day horrible and my daughter was harassed. “One week after this interview, the Daily Mail executed 14 paparazzi photos of Johansson and Jost in swimsuits on the beach in the Hamptons with the caption “Cheeky!”
Although she’s been famous for 15 years for billboards and buses, Johansson’s fall films seem likely to deliver her into the ravenous mouth of award season for the first time since 2006. Match point, when she was nominated for a Golden Globe. The performance of the actress in Marriage story, THRThe critic for ‘says, “makes you feel the impulses and instincts that confront each other – anger and desire, challenge and guilt, daring and worry.”
“I haven’t really been involved in the awards season mix for a long time, so I don’t know how I feel exactly. Maybe a little out of my element?” Said Johansson. “I am delighted to celebrate these two films with Noah and Taika. I have the impression that the two films are the films that the filmmaker and I intend to make, and this is an incredibly rare thing. When you’ve been working hard on something with someone for such a long time, it feels good to have that work recognized. “
For the moment, however, Johansson is concerned with other dilemmas related to celebrity and motherhood. “My daughter just told me she wanted a Black Widow costume for Halloween,” says Johansson. “I thought,” This is interesting. “That or a peacock,” she said. “It will be strange, but if she wants it, I guess I’ll have it.” What Rose understands about what her mother does for a living is not clear, says Johansson. “She knows that I am a superhero, or that I play a superhero, or that this is one of my jobs,” she says. “I don’t know if she thinks it’s real or not, I’m not sure. She is excited when she sees me on the Cheerios box.”
This story first appeared in the September 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.