A Role to Ride For

Teen People, June/July 1998

Scarlett Johansson grabs the reins with Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer

Young stars Hollywood-wide were clamoring to join tin Robert Redford's big-screen version of author Nicholas Evan's best-selling book The Horse Whisperer. Natalie Portman was slated to costar opposite the actor-director as a disillusioned young equestrian whose mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) falls for a dashing horse trainer. But when Natalie opted for Broadway's The Diary of Anne Frank instead, 13-year-old Scarlett made the part her own.

Teen People: How did you find out that you got the role?

Scarlett Johansson: My agent told me over the phone, and I was screaming. I couldn't believe it. Within a few hours I was on a plane, and three days later we were shooting. It was hectic.

TP: What was life like in Montana?

SJ: It was very different, especially for a city girl like me - I live in Manhattan. My mom and I stayed in a hotel, so we did have a little bit of civilization. I caught my first fish in the Boulder River. When I had a break, there was always a horse for me to hop on. I'm obsessed with horseback riding now.

TP: Were there any practical jokers among the cast and crew?

SJ: Whenever the production assistants needed someone to come to the set, they'd play a song over their walkie-talkies that they had chosen for that person. Mine was "Go West," by the Village People. On sets, the production assistants are usually the jokers.

TP: What do people on the set call Robert Redford, Robert or Bob?

SJ: Everybody calls him Bob, but I hated calling him Bob - it seemed weird - so I had to come up with some kind of nickname. I call him Booey, and he calls me Boo. It's nauseatingly adorable.