The Hollywood Reporter.Com, October 13, 2003
By Sheri Linden
At the tender age of 19, Scarlett Johansson is starring in two of the most-buzzed-about indie projects heading into awards season. In Focus Features' "Lost in Translation," she plays a young newlywed who forms an unlikely friendship with a Hollywood actor (played by Bill Murray) during a vacation in Toyko. In Lions Gate's "Girl With a Pearl Earring," she plays the title character: a maid who becomes the subject of Johannes Vermeer's famous painting. Johansson spoke recently with Sheri Linden for The Hollywood Reporter about being recognized as a gifted up-and-comer.
The Hollywood Reporter: The Hollywood Film Festival is honoring you as a breakthrough artist. Does this indeed feel like a breakthrough point in your career?
Scarlett Johansson: I've been in this industry for 11 years now, so it's funny to get a breakthrough award. But I do feel like I'm getting past being seen as a young teenager and becoming a young adult. I guess it does feel like I've broken through some kind of age barrier, so to speak. And I've been working so intensely on both films ("Lost," in current release, and the upcoming "Pearl Earring") that it's really great to feel that your work is recognized.
THR: You've already worked in a wide range of genres. Is it a conscious effort on your part to mix it up?
Johansson: When I look at a project, I wonder, What are the redeeming qualities of this film? If the script is not great, who else is attached to it? What kind of character am I going to play -- is it going to be challenging, is it going to be enjoyable? That's the No. 1 factor for me. No matter what, you're making a film for yourself, and if you are having an incredible time, you feel positive about the film. For me, it's really about whether I'm going to enjoy myself making a film, if it's going to be something that's challenging or if it's just another teen-slayer comedy.
THR: I can't quite see you in one of those.
Johansson: Well, you never know. I could sell out. I may need to buy furniture (for my apartment).
THR: Is there any particular kind of film or role that you're especially eager to do?
Johansson: I don't know that there's anything that particularly calls out to me. I'd love to do more comedy. I enjoy the process of doing comedic things, and whenever I have any comedy in the things I do, I love getting that down. I love getting the timing down; I love being able to work with other comedic actors.
THR: You've said that you have known for a very long time that you wanted to work in film, and your vision for yourself is to eventually direct. What drew you at such a young age to film -- was it the idea of performing or more an appreciation of the art of film itself?
Johansson: Being a little girl and having such a passion about film really came from just the magic of cinema. Watching all these old-fashioned musicals that my mom used to play for us -- (1955's) "Oklahoma!" (1956's) "Carousel" and all those old Judy Garland movies. These magical older films really piqued my passion for performance and the visual splendor. As I got older -- especially after we had done (1998's) "The Horse Whisperer" because I was really able to put my two cents in and work with Bob (Redford) and really feel comfortable giving suggestions -- it became more and more clear to me that film direction is the path for me. I can't wait.