Lost in Johansson

Cosmopolitan UK, October 2004
By Suzy Cox and Maria Hanson

She's a party girl (and couch potato) who loves bellinis (and TV dinners). There are many faces to rising star Scarlett Johansson - and they're all gorgeous, as Cosmo finds out

If we were to draw up a 'Who we'd most like to be' list, Scarlett Johansson would win the No 1 spot hands down. She has awards lining her mantelpiece, and a beauty and style reminiscent of classic Hollywood glamour - she's even been dubbed the noughties' Marilyn Monroe. Yes, Miss Scarlett has it all - and she's only 19 years old, damn her. And named after the feisty Scarlett 0'Hara in Gone With The Wind, it's hardly surprising she's captured the heart of Hollywood so early on.

Scarlett stepped into the spotlight last year in Lost In Translation - the tale of a fading movie star (Bill Murray) and a lonely young woman (Johansson) who connect in Tokyo. The relationshio that develops between them has been described as one of the most touching ever acted out on screen. That role, together with her star turn opposite Colin Firth in Girl With A Pearl Earring, won Scarlett fans, fame, an Oscar nomination and the Best Actress award at this year's Baftas. When she won Best Actress, Scarlett thanked her mother, Melanie Sloan, for "taking me to auditions and buying me hot dogs afterwards." How can you not love a girl who makes time to be nice to her mum?

Scarlett grew up in New York with her brother Adrian, 27, sister Vanessa, 24, and twin brother, Hunter. The brood's Danish surname is courtesy of father Karsten, an architect who moved to New York at 27. Since Melanie and Karsten divorced five years ago, Scarlett's been bi-coastal, spending time with Karsten in New York and Melanie in LA.

Not only did Melanie give her daughter the iconic name and encourage her acting ambitions - raising her on a diet of movie classics such as Oklahoma! - she's also Scarlett's manager. Scarlett's first shot at fame, auditioning for TV ads, was unsuccessful: the six-year-old's husky voice put off casting agents. But Scarlett was undeterred - when she saw The Silence Of The Lambs a year later, she announced she wanted to be a proper actress, like Jodie Foster, instead.

By eight, Scarlett was studying at New York's renowned Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute For Young People and, just a few months after her first acting class, she found herself acting opposite Ethan Hawke on Broadway. She'd racked up numerous minor roles and, by the time she got an 'introducing Scarlett Johansson...' credit for The Horse Whisperer, starring Robert Redford and Kristin Scott Thomas, the 14-year-old was already on movie number seven. Lost In Translation brought the tally to 13 - and she was still only 17.

Not surprisingly, Scarlett approaches life with the same go-get-'em attitude. And, it'd be fair to say, she's more than a touch wild. In March, she made a basque-and-fishnets appearance with the Pussycat Dolls (a troupe of poledancing cabaret girls) at Johnny Depp's notorious Viper Room club. And while filming Woody Allen's new flick in London this summer, Scarlett couldn't venture out in public without the paparazzi snapping her with a series of gorgeous men, including co-star Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, a newly single Jake Gyllenhaal and Lord Frederick Windsor, playmate of Princes William and Harry. She's also found time to star in the new Calvin Klein perfume ad with American model, actor and sexpot du jour, Trent Ford.

Catch Scarlett early next year starring as another young woman who falls for an older man (this time newcomer Topher Grace) in Synergy, then as an all-action heroine in Mission: Impossible 3. From seductress to stuntwoman in one easy step - is there anything the girl can't do? Cosmo sat Scarlett down to find out...

You've notched up an Oscar nomination, a Bafta award, and made 15 movies. Do you feel like an old soul?
"I wouldn't say I feel like an old soul, because only someone else can tell you that. I'm very sensitive to things around me, and as far as the business goes, I've been in it for so long, it feels very comfortable. Being on a movie set is such a great feeling. I know everything that's going on around me."

You grew up on movie sets. Did you mature very quickly?
"Yeah, I started when I was eight. I guess I matured quickly, but there's a very dorky side to me. I just go with the flow. I've always lived at home and gone to school, so I had a normal childhood, aside from making films. I'd do that for a couple of months, and then I'd go back to school."

When did you go from child actor to adult star?
"I've always played older roles. I was 17 when I made Lost In Translation, but I played a married woman of around 24, so it felt like being an adult. That was probably the transition."

What do you like to do when you're not filming?
"I like watching cheesy TV shows like Judge Judy. I can't stop watching Jerry Springer when it's on, either. I like cheesy movies, too - Arnold Schwarzenegger ones, because he's funny. That's not all l like, of course. But I like those kinds of dorky things; TV dinners and stuff."

How did you get on with Colin Firth in Girl With A Pearl Earring?
"Colin's a beautiful, fantastic, charming, sweet, adorable, wonderful person and great actor. I don't have enough nice things to say about the man, because I adore him tremendously. He helped me so much. He was great off-camera and was very supportive and always there for me - and I was always there for him. We had a great mutual respect for each other, both as actors and people."

What about Bill Murray, when you made Lost In Translation together?
"Bill is a comedic actor who takes his work very seriously. We didn't really have that much time to get to know each other. But he knows himself so well, and he's been doing his thing for such a long time, it made my job a lot easier."

Can you ever see yourself being attracted to an older man, like your character Charlotte is in the film?
"I think it's strange for people to have long-term relationships with that big an age difference, because you're at different places in your lives. But I don't think it's strange to fall in love with that big an age difference, because you can't really control that. Love crosses all boundaries. I'm a very liberal person. I could see [myself] falling in love with someone that age, but I couldn't imagine having a long-term relationship with an older man."

So are you dating anyone at the moment?
"No, I'm single for the first time since puberty. At first, I thought it would be very glamorous. I mean, it's wonderful - I like to be alone, and I like not having to sacrifice anything and having the time to figure myself out and be a little selfish. I wasn't very comfortable being single to start with, but then it started to get very comfortable."

When did you start dating?
"I got into serious relationships when I was young. My first love was when I was 14 and it was wonderful. We dated for two and a half years. Then I dated somebody else for a year and a half. They were great relationships, but I just grew out of them."

Was your mum pushy with you as a child actor?
"My mum never guided us towards anything. She let us find our own thing. I don't really have any hobbies. I have my career and I like to hang out, but that's it. I graduated from high school and was planning to go to film school, but I deferred for a year. Then things took off for me. I'd like to take film history or production classes, though."

What does your family think about your success?
"They're really wonderful about it. It freaks out my twin brother, Hunter, sometimes, especially when his friends at college, who I've never even met, ask how I'm doing. He's like, `You've never met her before, you idiot.' It makes me feel bad when things like that happen, because it makes him uncomfortable, and I'd never want anything in the whole world to make my twin brother or any of my siblings uncomfortable - but especially Hunter, because he's so fragile. I'm three minutes older, so you can kind of understand I'm protective of him."

Do you look alike?
"Well, I'm missing a few bits and pieces! No, I don't look anything like him. He's very tall and dark. But we're really close. We look out for each other."

How do you find living in LA?
"I really like LA now I've learned to accept it for what it is. There are lots of enjoyable things about it, like the beach and the nice people I've met, especially in the building I just bought an apartment in. There are lots of hysterical old Hollywood cronies there. You go to these wonderful, weirdo cocktail parties where there are all these crazy people who've worked with Orson Welles, doing his lighting and stuff."

What about living on your own?
"LA's a very hard place to be unless you have people that love you. It can be very, very lonely, and it can really eat you up if you don't take care of yourself. There's so much emphasis placed on what's happening next, on who people can meet to better themselves, and I'm not used to that. Growing up in New York, if you know one person, you know 20. If you go to a party where you don't know many people, you end up meeting everybody. It's so comfortable. In LA, nobody wants to talk to each other; everybody's giving each other catty looks. It's strange, but if you can get out of that scene, then there's plenty of nice things LA has to offer."

You didn't do many teen movies. Why was that? "I did one called The Perfect Score. It's about a bunch of teenagers who try to heist their SAT [exam] scores, so it's not really a bubblegum movie. I don't play a very conventional teen, either. I'm Francesca, this bad-ass, cleavage-bearing, knee-high bootwearing, grungy, sarcastic whatever. It was fun and cleverly written. I wanted to work with other young actors and get that out of the way, because I knew it would be the last chance for that kind of thing. It was a good time."

Growing up, did you ever go off the rails?
"I used to be into piercings. I had a whole bunch on my face. I don't think tattoos are a bad thing - I'm just not a tattoo person. As far as getting into drugs and alcohol goes, I think it depends what kind of family you come from. Everybody experiments when they're young, but some people don't want to - and some people are responsible. I think the irresponsible people are kids who really didn't have their parents watching out for them. And I don't mean you take your kids, look them in the eye and yell, 'Have you done any drugs?', because that's not productive. My mum never did that with me. I just knew that she was disapproving, and it made me think about why she would disapprove."

Everyone in Hollywood seems to be on a diet and fitness regime. Do you work out?
"No, I'm a big lazeball. It's disgusting. I sit around all day, and eat prosciutto and drink bellinis. That's my diet."