''When I was young, I wanted to be Judy Garland or Rosalind Russell. acting is my passion''

SundayMail, January 4, 2004
By John Millar

Pale-skinned, beautiful and fiercely intelligent, Scarlett Johansson is poised to become THE face of Hollywood this year at the tender age of 19.

She has been nominated for two Golden Globes, is a serious contender for an Academy Award and has the biggest names in movies singing her praises.

Her short career has seen her star alongside Robert Redford, Sean Connery and Billy Bob Thornton.

She is about to add another two to that list thanks to knock-out performances alongside Bill Murray in Lost In Translation and Colin Firth in romantic drama Girl With A Pearl Earring.

Films on the way include The Perfect Score, Synergy, A Good Woman and A Love Song For Bobby Long with John Travolta.

But Scarlett thrives on her gruelling schedule although she did admit: '' I'm just trying to keep my head on straight.''

Scarlett laughs off the predictions she is about to become the latest Hollywood sex symbol.

She said: ''I guess it's appropriate timing now that I'm 19 and becoming a young woman. I'm comfortable with my own sexuality.

''It's nice, there are lots of perks it means I can borrow lots of designer dresses.''

She takes hard work in her stride and shrugs off the fact she was filming Girl With A Pearl Earring just 10 days after finishing Lost In Translation.

Her career has been gently guided by her mother Melanie, who is also her manager. Scarlett hit the Scarlett is inspired by Wizard of Oz icon Judy Garland and Gypsy star Rosalind Russell both Hollywood legends. Scarlett hopes her blooming career will one day eclipse thembig time when she was just 13 with a starring role alongside Robert Redford and Kristen Scott Thomas in the Horse Whisperer.

Even at that tender age her talent shone through. Redford described her as ''13 going on 30''.

Scarlett, who also starred in cult comedy Ghost World and tongue-in-cheek horror flick Eight Legged Freaks, said she always dreamed of being a star.

She said: ''When I was young, wanted to be Judy Garland. I wanted to be a Rosalind Russell.

''That is the passion that has carried over into young adulthood with me.''

In Lost in Translation, Scarlett plays young college graduate Charlotte who befriends semi-retired movie star Bob (Murray) in Tokyo.

She was handpicked for the part by director Sofia Coppola daughter of Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola who knew she would be perfect opposite Murray.

Scarlett said: ''Sofia explained she had this script that was going to be with Bill Murray or she wasn't going to do it.

''She said it would also take place in Tokyo. Bill Murray and Tokyo were two very appealing things so she sent me the script.

''I knew right away it was a project wanted to be a part of.

''It was beautiful and when I finished reading it Iwas happy and sad and knew could play the part.''

She says the shoot was fun but admits it was tiring, especially since she already had jet-lag.

Scarlett added: ''We were shooting a week of days, then a week of nights, then a week of days. And I felt very disorientated while I was there.

''I was staying at Tokyo's Park Hyatt Hotel and we were also filming there, so it was very surreal going downstairs in my pyjamas for rehearsal.''

But she tried to see as much of the Japanese capital as she could. She said: ''It was fun and the days I had off which was just one day a week, unfortunately I would go shopping and eat out and try to walk around.

''But I couldn't do anything that touristy because I was so involved in work.''

Like her character, Scarlett also encountered problems with the language barrier.

She said: ''For whatever reason nobody really spoke English very well in the hotel.

''There was a Swedish hotel manager and he spoke English pretty well but nobody else did, so there was a lot of sign language.

''But there were a couple of people who knew how to say 'No'.''

In her second big release this month Scarlett plays the servant of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, later immortalised in his famous portrait, Girl With A Pearl Earring.

Her only complaint about shooting the 17thcentury romance was the bitter winter weather they faced on location in Luxembourg.

She said: ''It was very cold we were filming 12-hour days in clogs and period costume in sub-zero conditions. But it was an opportunity to play an amazing part.''

Scarlett's leading man in the film, Love Actually star Colin Firth, was also impressed by her talent.

He said: ''It is great to work with someone as intelligent as Scarlett.''

Girl With a Pearl Earring's director, Peter Webber, agreed. He said: ''She's hypnotic to watch, like a silent movie star.''

He added: ''Although young in years, she has an old soul.''

Lost In Translation is released on January 9 and Girl With A Pearl Earring is out on January 16.