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Shooting: Oct. 25 - Feb. 24
The Island
Theatrical Release: Nov. 19, 04
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
Theatrical Release: Dec. 29, 04
A Love Song For Bobby Long
Theatrical Release: Dec. 29, 04
In Good Company
Filming Completed
Woody Allen Summer Project
Theatrical Release (UK): May 13, 2005
A Good Woman
Shooting: March 05
The Black Dahlia
Shooting: Summer 05
Mission Impossible 3 Additional projects: proceed
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Scarlett fever strikes

Calgary Sun, January 16, 2005
By Ian Spelling

Scarlett Johansson burst onto the Hollywood scene in 1998 with her acclaimed performance in The Horse Whisperer, then drew further critical kudos for Ghost World (2000).

And since then she’s worked non-stop in 10 movies, among them the much-praised An American Rhapsody (2001), Lost in Translation (2003) and The Girl with the Pearl Earring (2003).

The kid — and at 20 she’s still only a kid — is nothing if not a workaholic.

“What’s so bad about being a workaholic?” Johansson says in mock protest. “I’m trying to make excuses for it. I guess it’s a Catch-22. When I’m working I say to myself, ‘God, I can’t wait to have a vacation,’ and when I’m not working I’m thrilled for the first two weeks. But then the third week rolls around, and I start to get anxious. I feel stale.”

That’s how Johansson ended up providing the voice of Mindy, daughter of King Neptune, in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie (2004) and co-starring in A Love Song for Bobby Long and In Good Company.

In A Love Song for Bobby Long, which will open in Calgary later this month, Johansson plays Pursy, a high-school dropout who returns to New Orleans after the death of her estranged mother. There she finds Bobby Long (John Travolta), an old, alcoholic former literature professor, and Lawson Pines (Gabriel Macht), his equally drunken protege, both living in her mother’s house. As time passes the three bring out the worst and the best in each other, and try to find their way back into the world.

“The script was so beautiful,” Johansson says by telephone from her Los Angeles apartment. “It read like a Tennessee Williams play. It’s very rare that you get a script like that, that’s really shocking in terms of how fantastic the characters are.

“My character is really likable and smart,” she says, “but at the same time very sensitive. She’s tough, but she’s not afraid to show that she’s sensitive, and there’s something very endearing about that. She can read a book and let herself get misty-eyed about it.

“She’s not ashamed of that part of herself, whereas Bobby is so shut off,” the actress says. “All the time you read scripts about the girl that's become so hardened and tough and then breaks down, but here Pursy is already sensitive.”

Johansson describes A Love Song for Bobby Long as a tale of redemption and, more important, of human connection. To back up that assertion, she refers to a recent conversation she and Travolta had when he interviewed her for a magazine feature.

“John said that you can still get a lot from a broken person,” Johansson says.

“And he’s right. A lot of times we disregard people who are not emotionally or monetarily or physically stable — we think of them as washed up or out of it — and this film is a lovely story about how those kinds of people have a lot to offer.”

In Good Company could hardly be more different. Written and directed by Paul Weitz, who broke out of his American Pie niche with the widely praised About a Boy (2002), it casts Johansson as the college-age daughter of a veteran advertising executive (Dennis Quaid) who is thrown for a loop when a much younger man (Topher Grace) becomes his boss after a merger. And that relationship grows even more awkward when his new boss starts dating his daughter.

“I’d just done Lost in Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring, and I got this script written by Paul Weitz,” Johansson recalls. “I read it and I just loved it. It was a complete story, with a wonderful social commentary and a great character for me to play.”

The experiences keep on coming: Johansson recently wrapped A Good Woman, based on an Oscar Wilde play and set for release next spring, as well as Woody Allen’s next film, as yet untitled. She’s currently filming Michael Bay’s The Island, a big-budget sci-fi film co-starring Ewan McGregor, and immediately afterward will move on to Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia, a drama based on the James Ellroy novel.

After that, if her character survives ongoing script revisions, Johansson will join Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible III.

Asked how long she can possibly maintain her current pace, the actress merely laughs.

“I just see this as my job,” she says. “I work from 6 in the morning until some crazy hour at night, and then I have my own personal life where I leave my work behind — or I try to, anyway, although I’m never that successful. I guess my work is my personal life in a lot of ways. That might sound boring, but it’s true. That’s a lot of what my life revolves around. Of course I have my friends and my family, whom I see every day, really, but my life centres around work a lot of the time.”


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