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Feature: Scarlett Johansson

In pose

Hollywood’s hottest rising star opens up about the consequences of fame, Ewan McGregor’s beard and being Woody Allen’s latest muse.

Scarlett Johansson is one of those eye-popping actresses that, when seen for the first time, makes you wonder why the hell you haven’t seen her in something before. Curvaceous, candid, smart, sexy and talented, Scarlett seems to have everything you need to become a modern-day Hollywood star, so it’s no surprise really that – after an amazing two years – that’s exactly what she’s become.

So, where was she before the fame hit and the Scarlett hyperbole was set in motion? Come on, think back, I’m pretty sure you’ll remember the first time you saw her. Eight Legged Freaks? Keep going. Ghost World? Nope, three years before that quirky classic, Miss Johansson starred as that little girl in Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer. Turned out all right didn’t she?

Scarlett’s gradual rise to fame had plenty of hints at her future stardom, playing alongside legends such as Billy Bob Thornton and Steve Buscemi and Bill Murray for directors as diverse as Joel and Ethan Coen and Sofia Coppola. Although she began as a child star, Scarlett was never going to be a Hillary Duff or a Lindsay Lohan (although that particular actress did beat her in the audition for The Parent Trap). Even after her rise to fame – give or take a Michael Bay actioner – she’s remained focused on scoring decent roles with great film-makers over huge wads of cash.

Johansson’s most recent acquisition appears to be 71-year-old cinematic legend Woody Allen, a film-maker who has always had an eye for exceptional talent. He practically broke (in the career-launching sense) Mia Farrow and Diane Keaton by using them constantly in his films. That he’s cast Scarlett in two successive films recently suggests that, once again, his eye has performed its magic.

“I'd be happy if I never had to work with anyone else but Woody,” Scarlett says of her director. “He's so hands off because he doesn't want to interfere with the actor’s natural instinct. I adore Woody Allen and I would work with him time and time again, no matter how crazy or outlandish the project.”

The first of Scarlett’s Woody movies was Match Point, an illicit tale of passion and betrayal which surprised critics for its very un-Woody Allen feel. It also seemed to do well with audiences worldwide, bringing in just over $70 million. Not bad for a little $15 million movie made in London. In fact both Match Point and Johansson and Woody’s next film, Scoop, were both shot in the English capital, providing something of a selling point to both stars, albeit in very different ways.

“We couldn't do that many quirky things because we were stuck in London,” Scarlett says of working away from home. “And I mean that in the most affectionate way because it was a wonderful place to be. And I never saw [Woody] because I think he tried out about 87 restaurants while we were there. But I went to the Tate Modern about 12 times and there's plenty of shopping to be done in London and I would go to the theatre and see friends, and I have family there.”

by Gayl Murphy

Read the full interview in
Ultimate DVD #75

Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Ultimate DVD #75, see below for ordering options
Ultimate DVD #75
May 2006
ships from Apr 12 2006
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