Q&A With… Scarlett Johansson

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Scarlett Johansson, star of next month’s We Bought A Zoo opposite Matt Damon, discusses her role, being a beauty icon, and her secret love for watching medical TV shows.

(Eating a cookie) You don’t look like you eat a lot of cookies.

I eat cookies, but I don’t eat a lot of cookies!

Do you have to exercise a lot to keep this great figure of yours?

In order to eat as many cookies as I do? Yeah, it’s all tucked away. I exercise a regular amount, keep pretty fit most of the time, but I’ve just been into eating cookies a lot more recently. I guess I go through phases like everyone else.

What attracted you to the movie We Bought A Zoo?

I’ve been trying to work with (director) Cameron Crowe for 15 years, so it was amazing that I finally had the opportunity to be able to collaborate with him. I went into the meeting with him and I read the script but I felt that my character was underwritten. I think Cameron felt the same way, which ended up working out for me because we started to talk about ideas on expanding and enriching her, in a way. It was wonderful to be able to finally collaborate with him; to really build a character from scratch. I think it was just kind of the right time for us. The right project.

What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

As an actor, you are constantly asked to do crazy, adventurous things. We always need that “20-seconds-of-courage” to propel down a mountain, go into a burning village, be completely naked emotionally, and to challenge ourselves in ugly ways. I think I’ve had a lot of adventures like that. You go completely out of your wheelhouse and then suddenly you realize the cameras are rolling and you think “Oh okay, I’m just going to dive headfirst into this now and drive it like I own it”.

Scarlett Johansson wearing a sequined top and pleated skirt

"Everybody can tell when it’s not organic, everybody can feel when you are lying, you can’t hide anything up there. Everyone knows when you are lying, so you expose yourself and you become vulnerable in a really kind of delicious way."

Can you tell us which specific work you felt naked in emotionally?

I did a play last year that was really emotionally revealing. You can’t really hide much when you are in front of 1,600 people every night, twice a day at times. Everybody can tell when it’s not organic, everybody can feel when you are lying, you can’t hide anything up there. Everyone knows when you are lying, so you expose yourself and you become vulnerable in a really kind of delicious way.

How do you feel when people talk about you in terms of being one of the most beautiful women in the world? Do you see that as a separate part of yourself, almost like you’re playing a character?

If I’m selling a beauty campaign, it’s really the designer’s idea of what this kind of iconic beauty is, as far as the entire look goes. It’s very specific, and so in that sense, I do feel like it’s just a canvas for someone else’s idea of beauty. I am not particularly glamorous in my everyday life. I’m pretty low key, so in a sense it is a character I guess – a kind of face that you put on when you do that stuff. That’s fun; it’s nice for a little bit. Then you wash all the glamour away when you get home.

Are you a spa girl? When you want to de-stress, do you enjoy being pampered?

Not really, I like to veg out. I’m not big on pampering and stuff like that. I much prefer to stay home and watch movies.

Do you watch bad reality TV or anything of the sort?

Yes, sometimes. I love medical programs. I even like the gross ones, like Trauma: Life in the ER. I love that stuff. I’ve always liked medical shows – not the scripted shows, but the reality ones. Perhaps I may have been a doctor in a previous life. I would have loved to have been a doctor; it would have been fascinating. Even now I like to diagnose people’s weird skin conditions (laughs).

Scarlett Johansson wearing a sequined top

Are you doing anymore singing?

I would love to. I don’t have any plans to do anything at the moment because I’ve been totally focused on film. But I do have ideas for projects that I’d like to work on, so once I have a little break and then have the time for it, I’d really love to do it again.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My idea of perfect happiness, it changes. It depends on where I am at in life and whether I am overworked or underworked. Sometimes, when I am working on something really impossible, my idea of happiness is to do absolutely nothing.

What’s a perfect day, other than watching the medical programs?

Not being at work, maybe sleeping in a little bit. Then I like to walk around the city a lot; I love being in New York. I get up, go run a few errands, try to get my sweat on, walk around the city, go to a show.

What was it like working with Matt Damon?

He’s the best, he’s a great guy. He’s everything you could want in a scene partner – he’s very funny and he’s very present, so you know that when you drop the hat, he’s there to pick it up for you, or if you throw the ball, he will throw it back. He’s totally present, very professional in that way, but he’s also just a lovely guy.

When you work on location, are you a good sightseer?

I never go sightseeing. I’d rather see the music scene, and go out for dinner and drinks to see what happens at night. During the day in the city, I like to walk around and do a little bit of shopping, but I always find that cities come more alive at night.

Photos: Courtesy of TRUNK ARCHIVE

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