Scarlett Woman

Empire Online, October 28, 2003

It was with great regret that Empire Online learned Bill Murray would not be in attendance at last night's Lost In Translation gala. The comedy god was unable to make it to the UK to attend the film's debut at the London Film Festival and so we were a touch crestfallen that there would be no opportunity to bow down and pay homage at the altar of Murraydom. But, as we waited to meet the filmmakers beneath a slight cloud of disappointment, the extremely charming Scarlett Johansson broke through our pall like a ray of morning sunshine.

"Hello!" She chirped with far more exuberance than is natural from someone who has jumped off a plane, done hours of interviews and then braved the cold to attend her film's festival gala. "Are you kidding? It's so great when have a small film and feel that you're recognised in a big way at a great festival. I've been involved with independent film for so long now that it's a huge part of my life and my passion. You have to support it wherever you can."

Lost in Translation joins Johansson with Murray as a pair of disenfranchised souls floating adrift in the alien world of metropolitan Tokyo. Recognising a kindred spirit in each other, the pair form an unusual friendship in this absorbing, touching and obscenely funny film. "Bill's a very serious comedian," recalls the actress of her co-star. "he certainly made my life a lot easier, I could just dodge a little and he'd just fill in the void."

Also present and equally enthusiastic was director Sophia Coppola, scion of one of cinema's most impressive filmmaking families and helming her first feature since 1999's The Virgin Suicides. "I was in the mood for something different after The Virgin Suicides, that movie was kind of heavy so I wanted to do something that was fun." Coppola wrote the film under the assumption that Murray would take the lead and freely admits that, without him, there would simply be no film. "We wouldn't have made it if he'd said no. He's my favourite; he's just the funniest and he's so lovable. The thing about Bill is he can do both: he can be really funny but be very touching also. You can just put him in a room with something and he'll just make it funny."

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