A/V Room









The Island - Scarlett Johansson interview

Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. How much more physically demanding has this movie been than others you have done?
It’s certainly been more physically demanding than Girl With The Pearl Earring… We’ve been doing a lot of running, it has been physically demanding, it is something you want to be in shape for.
Early on, I was coming home with, like, shin splints: “Okay! I got to start working out.” But, you know, I think you don’t realise how hard you run when you are running for your life. I mean don’t know if you’ve ever run for your life before, to freak out and a full sprint. Yeah, it has been quite physically demanding.

Q. Is that more fun?
It is different, I have never really done anything like that before. I did train for a few months for Mission Impossible when we were going to do it last fall, but we were basically doing weapons training and stunt work and that kind of thing. We weren’t really doing such physical stuff from point A to point B, horizontally anyway.

Q. What did you find in the script that was close to your tastes as an actress?
I think I as a movie watcher and an audience member I'm always one for a good genre movie. If it’s done well, Jurassic Park is one of my favourite movies of all time because it transports you, or an Indiana Jones movie.
It doesn’t have to be some character-driven story for you to believe it for two hours. And when I read the script I really bought it, I thought 'wow, this is fantastic'.
It was very exciting, I was turning the pages, wanting to know what will happen. I thought if this is done how I am thinking and reading it, then it will be larger than life, a really fantastic science fiction thriller.
And, of course, when I met Michael and he showed me some of the work he had been doing with digital storyboarding and that kind of thing, it was kind of like, 'yes this is going to be really cool'.

Q. Michael Bay is known for being pretty difficult sometimes, pushing his actors. Have you found that?
Michael has never screamed at me, if I did I would probably scream back. I found Michael to be very reasonable with us.
He’s never made me do anything I don’t want to do. He’s been very thoughtful about the fact that Ewan and I are not stunt people. We’re acting at the same time we are running and that kind of thing.
He’s not trying to exhaust us or anything like that. He’s certainly very demanding of the crew. He’s somebody that knows what he wants, and you want to give that to him. He’s not undecided. When you are making a film of this magnitude, you have your hands in a million pockets or whatever the phrase it.

Q. Is it a bit strange having to wear white the whole time?
Yes, it’s really flattering and glamorous. Ewan and I are sweaty and smelly and greasy the whole time, it’s so funny. This is not a glamorous industry at all. Trawling through greasy, oily water. But it is a little bit different in the prep for an award show.

Q. It is difficult for an actress or an actor, to work with blue screen?
Yeah, I don’t know that it’s like more difficult than anything else. You just have to have a good imagination I guess. You are reacting to a tennis ball or something, but you are doing it. I mean look at Ewan he did it for, what, a year and a half on Star Wars.
You are learning how far you can push yourself as an actor. You become familiar with your ability to put yourself in an uncommon situation. You are experiencing, even though that massive truck isn’t coming towards me, but you are thinking 'Jesus Christ, a massive truck is coming towards me!'
I don’t think that is harder than trying to fumble through dialogue, or make something silly sound realistic. We have all sorts of bizarre challenges that are only in this industry.

Q. Is it a challenge to stay level headed given you’ve had a meteoric rise in terms of your acting career?
I don’t know, I just do things…. I do magazines and things when I want to. I think to stay level-headed you have to know when to say, “No, you know I’ve had a really long week I can’t deal with this right now…”
You have time for yourself and the time when you are working and never mix the two up. In a sense I am always working, I find even when I am trying to spend time off, I always have something going on with a film I am working on – working on scripts, when it is coming out, working on ideas, working on things that need to be rewritten, all kinds of things.
I mean to actually do that kind of work… The media side of it, that is what gets you lop-sided. When you start believing it - “I am the most incredible thing of the last ten years!” or whatever they are saying. And you start to incorporate that into you private life. If you separate the two things and realise that one is used to help you in your work, then you have your own private time and private life.

Q. Your mother said you were making too many films, is she right?
She would probably like me to take a vacation, probably a vacation with her. It’s like, “I never see you anymore…” But she gets it, she knows I am happy, she knows what I want. She’s good in that way. Even though she might advise me to not take something and hang out at home in her motherly way. She gets it. She knows I am really enjoying it. That goes for all of my siblings, she cares that we are doing stuff that we really care about.

Q. How much fun has it been working with Ewan McGregor?
It’s been so much fun. I couldn’t wish for a more lovely or sweet person to work with. It’s very rare that you actually work for the whole day and then you actually want to hang out with somebody off set. He’s such a sweetheart, he’s got a wonderful family, and he’s such a regular guy.
I mean we laugh a lot, especially when you are working this hard, working this long on a show, you want to make sure you can laugh a lot when no one else is laughing. Everybody is working so hard, and you’ve been running for your life, you want to be silly about it. I would love to work with him in other capacities, outside of this film, in a dramatic piece, in a comedy. We make a good team.

Q. If you were literally stuck on an island what would you take?
How many things are you allowed?

Q. Three.
I would take a giant tub of water… A bayonet knife, I could think of things that would be useful like rope.

Q. Possessions?
I don’t know – my sister, sunblock and my mum. The girls.

Q. Why you surprised to be offered a role like this?
I wasn’t surprised, I was pleased that the studio and Michael could see me outside of a dramatic actor, or outside of In Good Company or Lost In Translation.
I’ve had 12 years of all different kinds of films, but I have never done an action film. It’s nice to know they think I can go the distance.

Q. The next film you make will be The Black Dahlia…
Well, Black Dahlia is based on the James Ellroy novel, and I play a character called Kay Lake who is a very complicated girl, she is very broken. She is kind of the girl crying behind her smile. It is a wonderful story, wonderful book, I think it is going to be a pretty exciting movie. Brian De Palma has brought together an amazing crew, right through the cinematographer, costume designer, set designer, and it’s a great cast as well, so it should go pretty well I think.

Q. How was it working with Woody Allen on Match Point?
It was fantastic. He would probably want me to say he was a beast or a monster or something. That’s what he said, “When you do your press interviews make sure they know how horrible I am.” Okay… He was more than I ever could have dreamed, I just adored working with him.
I think we made a good pair, he was hysterical – very insulting. He was always trying to dig into your personal life, he wants to know every aspect of your romantic life, trying to live vicariously. He was very funny, I adored him. I would do it a million times over.

Related stories: Read the review

Ewan McGregor interview

Match Point preview

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z