Scarlett Johansson: Cool Freak

TeenHollywood.Com / July 21, 2002

by Lynn Barker

Actress Scarlett Johansson just graduated from high school and is digging all the freedom. When we spoke with her in Los Angeles, she was sporting a delicate silver nose ring, a cute black skirt, well-worn tennies and blue nail polish. She curled her feet up under her in a chair and, in a very casual and self-assured manner, told us about working in her first effects film Eight Legged Freaks. The world first met Scarlett a few years ago as a young girl traumatized in a riding accident in Robert Redfordís The Horse Whisperer. A lot of young people identified with her character in Ghost World and remember her working opposite Billy Bob Thornton in The Man Who Wasnít There.

TeenHollywood: Was it hard to pretend things were there when theyíre not?

Scarlett: Iíve had to do that once or twice. You do it with improv. I remember there was a scene in Horse Whisperer when a Mac truck comes and hits me and it was really Bob Redford going "And it comes to you, closerÖcloserÖcloser" and Iím thinking "This isnít scary. Itís every middle-aged womanís dream come true." No, heís very attractive. I had the hots for Sean Connery so age is just a number.

TeenHollywood: Why do a giant spider movie?

Scarlett: Iíd done three films that were kind of weird and quirky and not at all like this film and Iíd never done anything with big special effects before and it was just kind of appealing. It seemed like the right time to do it. Iíd never been to Arizona before.

TeenHollywood: When you saw the spiders in the film for the first time is it what you imagined it would be?

Scarlett: Dean (Devlin) had shown me what it was going to look like but it was nothing like what I saw [in my head]. I wondered if it was going to look like [the old film] Tarantula where itís an actual tarantula plopped in there or is this going to be a digital freak show? It was a nice, happy medium between the two. It wasnít a fake, awful thing. It was scary. The only audience I had [with me] was like 35 of my friends and family and everybody was freaking out. It was funny to get a reaction from kids my age. I got freaked out a couple of times. My boyfriend looked at me and said, "You canít jump. You were in this."

TeenHollywood: How do you feel about spiders?

Scarlett: Theyíre all right I guess. I didnít think I was that scared of them then somebody proposed that I hold one and it was Ďoh my God, youíre bringing it closer!í I held it. It was okay but Iíd never hold a cockroach, ewwww. This girl once had these giant African cockroaches as pets and she would pet them and play with them. I live in New York. I found one in my shoe and on my face one morning.

TeenHollywood: Are you avoiding doing a lot of teen films?

Scarlett: No. I wouldnít say that. The next film Iím doing is a teen film [Perfect Score]. Itís about a lot of kids who decide "screw the SATs." They plot this whole thing to steal the scores. Some people would say Ghost World was a teen film because it had teenagers in it. But I donít feel comfortable bearing my stomach. I wouldnít pay ten dollars to see it.

TeenHollywood: Did you watch creature features growing up?

Scarlett: My mom and I used to watch them. The Amazing Colossal Man and The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman were some of my favorites.

TeenHollywood: Kari Wuhrer is really wacky and fun but sheís serious in the film. What was it like working with her as your mom?

Scarlett: Kari is closer to my age than most of the people who have played my mom. It makes a difference. People would say, "Thatís your mom? You look like youíre sisters." Whoís the one who is supposed to make out with David Arquette here? She has one scene where sheís very stern and I have one where Iím a little rebellious. For the rest of the film itís all about the spiders. We always had a good time. We could have girlie talks, more about being two women than a mother/daughter.

TeenHollywood: Whatís in your CD player right now?

Scarlett: Eric Clapton Unplugged. I listen to a lot of classic rock music.

TeenHollywood: Whatís next after Perfect Score for you?

Scarlett: This Fall Iím going to shoot something with Bill Murray and beginning of next year Iím supposed to shoot something with John Travolta.

TeenHollywood: How do you handle the competition among actresses your age?

Scarlett: If I find something that is just ripening, I grab it. The nice thing is, Iíve been very fortunate with other actors. I can go directly to an actor and say, "Letís do this together" and it happens. Whereas, if itís something like a big studio film with a lot of girls fighting over it, whoeverís film has made the biggest box office is most likely the prime suitor for the part. I kind of avoid that stuff. Itís better for me to burrow underground and then pop up.

TeenHollywood: What determines if you take a part or not?

Scarlett: The most important thing to me is that the character is something I can play. I canít play a cheerleader. Itís going to come out awful. Some people are good at that. I think I look for projects that are unusual, films I havenít seen before. Also you look for films that remind you of films that you like and then what directorís going to be working on it. Whereís it shooting?

TeenHollywood: What are you reading?

Scarlett: I just graduated two weeks ago and realized now I can read and itís not an assignment. Itís an amazing realization. Now Iím reading the complete short stories of Ernest Hemmingway. Itís cool.

TeenHollywood: What, other than acting, is a natural high for you?

Scarlett: I like eating good meals. Every time I go out and eat good meals, itís a total natural high. You go out for a good chicken parm and youíre happy and afterward, youíre still happy. I like that. Itís so good.

TeenHollywood: Are you going to do college?

Scarlett: I want to take time doing it so I deferred for one year from film school and then Iím going. Iím going to Purchase [in New York]. Itís super hands on and the Freshman class is like eighteen kids and you donít take care of any of your requirements until your junior year so you just start watching movies and making movies and itís good. You crew for everybody else. Itíll be fun I think. You can imagine me setting up lights. Iíll kill myself.


Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.