'Lost' Star Finds Sudden Fame

CBSNews.Com, September 22, 2003
By Jess Cagle

The biggest box office story of the past few weeks may be the performance of "Lost In Translation," a movie that's getting good reviews and packing theaters in limited release.

Bill Murray stars as Bob Harris, an American movie star paid $2 million to travel to Japan to film a whiskey commercial. Scarlett Johansson plays Charlotte, a young bride who is virtually abandoned at the hotel by her workaholic, photographer husband.

The two lost souls, stranded in Tokyo, strike up a deep connection with each other that transcends the differences in their ages and their lives.

Jess Cagle, The Early Show entertainment contributor and People magazine senior editor, recently sat down with Johansson.

Director Sofia Coppola had created the part of Bob Harris with Bill Murray in mind. But the character Charlotte is meant to be played by an actress older than Johansson, 18.

Johansson says, “She's a bit older than I am, and she's been married for a couple of years. She's clever and smart, well educated and, in the process of re-evaluating her happiness, finds that something feels missing. And it's scary. I think a lot of people can relate to that."

Is the relationship between Bob and Charlotte that of father-daughter or a more of a budding sexual relationship. Johansson says it can be interpreted both ways.

She explains, “There's a sort of sexual attraction between the two characters, obviously. And at the same time, I think it's, you know, an older person giving advice to a younger person about marriage and getting older and having a family and so it really sort of falls not one way or the other, I mean, no reason to categorize. I think that's what makes it such a sort of realistic relationship between the two characters, is that there's no definite line. It's very natural.”

What it is clear to Johansson is Bill Murray's special talent.

She says, “Bill's very funny. He's very witty. He's very clever. He's also a very serious actor. He takes his craft very seriously. He can be very quiet and internal, which is what makes him such a sort of enigmatic character to watch. You just can't take your eyes off him."

Though Johansson has been acting since she was 8 and has starred in a number of movies, including "Ghost World" and the "Horse Whisperer," the critical acclaim that "Lost In Translation" has garnered has raised her profile in Hollywood.

Johansson says, "Everybody is saying, ‘Oh, so what is it like to be the ‘It Girl?’ And I'm like, ‘the ‘It Girl?’ What does that mean?’ All of a sudden it's like I don't want to be the ‘It Girl;’ then you're the ‘Once Was Girl,’ you know."

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