With the Golden Globes looming and the awards season in full swing, Woody Allen’s Match Point is shaping up as a strong contender, with star Scarlett Johansson a favourite as a Best Actress winner. This often sardonic tale of adultery and infidelity offers food for thought, and causes the beautiful actress to ponder on monogamy in Hollywood, as she revealed to Paul Fischer.
Scarlett Johansson, casually attired in jeans and a loose, white blouse, drapes over a couch in a Los Angeles hotel room, looking relaxed and in good humour. And for good reason. Critically acclaimed for her portrayal of an American actress in London, whose adulterous affair with a social climbing ex-tennis pro has dire consequences, the beautiful actress confesses that monogamy and Hollywood don’t necessarily go hand in hand. “I don’t think human beings are monogamous creatures by nature,” the actress concedes. “You have to put a lot of effort into a relationship with somebody. People cheat for different reasons with some constantly needing to kind of reaffirm their status as a dominating person; while other people are unhappy in their relationships but they’re co-dependent on a partner.”
While not being too direct about her own relationships, Johansson does admit that actors have a tougher time than most keeping faithful. “I think it’s hard for working actors general just because they’re so damn moody,” she says, laughingly. “Also you’re away from people constantly and having a relationship with somebody on the phone is miserable. So it’s difficult in that sense to say, hey, guess what, I’m going off with this really sexy guy to do this very sexy movie but I love you and I’m going to be thinking about you when I’m rolling around in bed with this other person. Not only that but also I think that sometimes you get really overwhelmed by your emotions when you’re working and so it’s hard to differentiate how you feel when you’re working from how you feel in real life in that moment,” the actress confesses, justifying why it is actors find it tough to have monogamous relationships with one another, “because you’re constantly thinking in somebody else’s head as well as a film set being a very incestuous kind of place. I mean you’ve got the makeup artist sleeping with the DP who is also sleeping with the wardrobe person.”
In Match Point, Johansson has some passionate and torrid moments with her leading man, Irish hunk Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and has no problem engaging in some wild sexual on-screen love scenes, atypical for a Woody Allen film. “I’m not conservative or anything if it’s tastefully done. Besides, I mean Jonathan is very gorgeous and everything so it wasn’t that difficult,” she adds, smilingly. Nor was it tough for the actress to say no to the idea orf working with Woody Allen. “I’ve always been a fan of Woody’s probably before I was supposed to be watching his movies. I was planning on taking the summer off and I got this call from my agent who mentioned that Woody is shooting a film in London in a week and I was like, Woody? – Oh, my god, I couldn’t believe it.” While she would have done the movie script unseen, Johansson did respond to Match Point. “I don’t know why I responded to it and I don’t know if I have the vocabulary to explain why I like any project. I just responded to the dialogue and the character and I thought, okay, I can play that and I felt I was capable.”
The experience was so stimulating, that she re-teams with Woody on his next project, as both co-star and director. “We wanted to act together and we wanted to do a comedy together because we had a lot of fun on set, and there was a kind of funny banter between us, so when we were making it I said, that I would love to act with you some time which would be so much fun, and he agreed.” She said working with him as an actor “was the same except I got to see him more. It was a little bit different doing a comedy with him because he he’s a comic genius.”
While it seems that Johansson is at her best doing smaller films, she is not giving up on mainstream Hollywood, despite the failure of The Island. “That was the only science fiction film I’d ever read that I felt was worth doing. I think it bombed because it was just very bad marketing, domestically, because it did really well internationally. . But I mean I’m doing The Nanny Diaries, which is certainly commercially viable, and then I’m doing a film called The Prestige, Chris Nolan’s film with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. Then I’m going to do a Neil Jordan movie so it’s sort of all across the board.”
And Johansson, who has been working steadily since her adolescent debut in The Horse Whisperer, says she doesn’t look at her spate of success with any degree of objectivity. “I still don’t really think about the future that much. I’m surprised that I haven’t been found out really and I just continue working and hope that I can keep working from job to job, nor do I have some grand plan. I mean when you get older and you start to think about it as more of a career, having to balance an independent film with something that’s more commercial, it’s still making movies.”
As busy as she is, one wonders how the actress has time for any kind of a personal life, but while still enjoys the dating scene, unlike the male central character in Match Point, she doesn’t view marriage as an economic necessity, and is not immune to the idea orf that particular institution. “I think marriage is a very romantic idea, but when you look at it as an economic necessity I think that’s different for different people. But someday when I decide I would like to have children with somebody I think it would be nice to be married.”