Interview By: Rocco Passafuime
In her nearly 15 year career and at the age of 24, Scarlett Johansson has already attained a level of fame most young actors take a lifetime to achieve. After garnering notice in critically-acclaimed films like The Horse Whisperer and Ghost World, Johansson has received several Golden Glove nods for her performances in Girl With A Pearl Earring, Lost In Translation, A Love Song For Bobby Long, and Match Point.
However, Scarlett does not limit herself and has done the occasional odd film in her career ranging from Home Alone 3 to Eight Legged Freaks to The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. Now she stars in what is to be a more glamorous, but no less perennially odd film in graphic novel artist turned filmmaker Frank Miller’s film adaptation of Will Eisner’s 1940′s comic strip The Spirit. Johansson first shares with us what compelled her to do a comic book movie.
“I’m not really a comic book fan,” she admits, “That world always seemed exclusive to me, so what brought me to this project was Frank. I loved Sin City, loved it, and I loved 300, and I thought, he must be a pretty interesting fellow. And so, I had gotten this script and there really wasn’t any part for me and the Silken Floss character was kind of underwritten, but I still wanted to meet Frank.
“And so, we met and we had a really wonderful three hour lunch meeting and just talked about New York and just laughed and had a great time,” Scarlett continues, “And by the end of it, I was like, well, I’m sad there’s nothing for me to do. And he’s like, oh, I’ll think of something. And so, he decided to expand this character and I got super, super lucky and that was really it for me. I just wanted to. I felt like being a part of his vision would be a fun world
Like Miller’s first film effort Sin City, The Spirit is an ultra-stylized film noir world. We asked Scarlett whether or not she took any cues from classic film noir to embody the glamorous persona of Silken Floss.
“I do love, there are so many wonderful film noir movies that I enjoy like The Third Man and The Maltese Falcon and White Heat and so many wonderful movies,” she replies, “And I could be a big film nerd and list them all, but the truth is I feel that the noir qualities of this film are really stylistic choices, which are the ode to the film noir style. But the production designer wouldn’t be able to list all those movies and Frank wouldn’t or the cinematographer.”
One of the film’s highlights is the outlandish mix of post-modern and 1940′s-style costumes many of the characters sport. Johansson explained for us what she feels the costume of Silken Floss embodies.
“For my character, this was kind of like, these are her humble beginnings and she is a medical, scientific mind and I think she’s using this as a great opportunity to kind of extend her schooling in a way,” she believes, “She has this huge plethora of wealth and equipment and these grand ideas and for her to be able to carry out this man’â€¦to actually put it to paper all his kind of crazy ideas is just a way for her to experiment. She says as the end of the film, who knows what she’ll do? She’s moving on up.”
“And as far as all my costumes, all my costumes directly correlated with [Samuel Jackson's] costumes,” Scarlett adds, “So they just said, Sam’s costumes like this and I’m like, oh, what does my costume look like? And they’re like, yours is this. It was always like the quarter of the size of Sam’s costume. But I love that, that fabulous golden age of Hollywood,
We also asked Scarlett whether or not she felt her comfortable with her character being a glamorous sex object as henchman of the film’s villain The Octopus.
“In what capacity? In my everyday life? What are you asking me?” Johansson answers, “Well she is, I echo exactly what Frank, his sentiment is that the character, she knows that’s what she’s offering to The Octopus and it’s part of her appeal, because she’s this big, this giant brain whom looks fantastic in a short skirt. And so, in her mind, it’s kind of just another way. That’s how she lures The Spirit into her den. It’s very convenient for them.”
Playing The Octopus is none other than Samuel L. Jackson. Johansson shared with us what it was like working with Hollywood’s ultimate bad-ass motherf***er.
“We had a huge scene together where I kicked his ass,” Scarlett recalls, “He’s mad that I kicked his ass. As you can tell, I really love him. As far as Sam and I, our relationship, I think of Lucille Ball and that has nothing to do with the film noir, but the comedy we’re in, but I feel like Sam was the Lucy and I was the Ricky.”
Finally, we wondered if Scarlett has ever had a boss in real life quite like Silken Floss has with The Octopus.
“Well, I’ve never done anything other than be an actress,” Johansson laughs, “I’m afraid if I do answer that question, I’ll be blacklisted.”