“Scoop” is the second pairing of Woody Allen with young blonde bombshell Scarlett Johansson after their success with last year’s sexual thriller “Match Point”. Utterly different in tone, “Scoop” returns us to Woody Allen’s more traditional eccentric comedies and has the pair investigating a handsome English artistocrat (Hugh Jackman) who may be a serial killer of women. Out doing promotions for the film, Johansson talked “Scoop” along with her other high profile releases this year like Chris Nolan’s “The Prestige” and Brian DePalma’s “The Black Dahlia”.
Question: What was it like to work with Woody Allen a second time?
Johansson: It’s great. Woody and I were shooting Match Point and I’ve always admired him as a director and comedian and writer and actor. I was kind of, “it would be so nice if we could work together as actors because we have such nice banter between us”.
Question: So he wrote this specifically for the both of you?
Johansson: Right. Scoop is our banter kind of brought on screen.
Question: There was a quick turnaround time between Match Point and Scoop?
Johansson: It was only like maybe five months or something. He had to come up with it first and I heard from him that he was developing it. I just kept the summer open and we ended up shooting. That’s what’s great about working with Woody, it’s very easy, relaxed, no pressure.
Question: Match Point is very dramatic, while Scoop is light-hearted. Which do you prefer?
Johansson: I love to do comedy. They both work. I’m an actor. I do both.
Question: Was Woody any different directing comedy?
Johansson: That banter is like our lunchtime conversation. When I’m working with Hugh [Jackman], the character is so starry-eyed and Hugh is so incredibly gorgeous and wonderful that I didn’t have to do much acting there. I was just kind of flabbergasted by the whole thing. And working with Woody, it was very easy to do. Woody doesn’t use a monitor or anything like that. He’s watching the performance right there, so it was very easy for him to just say, “Ok, the energy you had in the last one is not going to cut together with this, so we have to make a bigger entrance”, or whatever it may be. That made it easier. I didn’t feel any different on the set of Match Point.
Question: Woody describes you as sexually overwhelming?
Johansson: I guess I take it as a compliment. But hopefully not too overwhelming. I don’t know. I think that he’s probably being quite facetious when he says it. I find him to be overwhelming sometimes. Maybe not sexually overwhelming, but certainly overwhelming (laughs). Especially before he eats his muffins in the morning. But I think it’s very sweet of him to say.
Question: He has compared the ease and comfort of working with you to Diane Keaton?
Johansson: He remains very close with Diane and adores her, so it’s a huge compliment for me that he would say something like that. I have to say that working with him, every day going to work it’s like you’re happy to go to work. Which is amazing, because that’s not always the case. It was a joy.
Question: Woody’s character and your character have an interesting relationship in this film?
Johansson: I loved that whole aspect of our relationship. I loved that whole father-daughter thing and Woody was just mortifying. One of my favorite lines in the script is, “Stop telling everybody I sprung from your loins”. He comes up with this great dialogue. It was so odd for us to be playing father and daughter. And of course one of us has to be the straight man, which of course is me. It’s going to be me because Woody is such a goof-off.
Question: Do you see Lost in Translation as the turning point of your career?
Johansson: I made Lost in Translation right after I made The Perfect Score. I had no idea that film was going to be what it turned out to be. The success of it was a turning point in my career, for sure; I didn’t know it was going to be so popular. I had a great experience. I never cared about box office or press coverage. I’m just happy I get to work, period.
Question: Did you ever treat your parents like you treat Woody in the film?
Johansson: My parents have never been that embarrassing. I was really lucky. My mom’s from New York and super-hip. My dad is Danish, so he’s all relaxed and Scandinavian. So I was fortunate enough not to have embarrassing parents.
Question: What’s the difference between being a straight guy for Bill Murray and a straight guy for Woody Allen?
Johansson: The relationships are so different. It’s hard to compare the two. In Lost in Translation, I’m not hysterical at all, and if I ever have a funny moment, it’s just ironic and painful. Working with Woody, I’m playing a real character that’s funny in her own quirky, weird way. I find, also, that Bill’s humor is much more involving of the person that he’s with, whereas Woody is just one-liners and is just kind of making himself laugh, which I love and just kind of stand back and admire. It was a different kind of experience all around. Also, he’s not playing a love interest, so it was a big difference there.
Question: What can you tell us about Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige?
Johansson: The Prestige is set at the turn of the century and it’s a story of two duelling magicians who have a personal vendetta against one another. It’s set in London and it’s very serious. My relationship with Hugh [Jackman] in that is also romantic, but it’s very different because he’s playing somebody who is obsessive and focused. I’m somebody in a relationship, a real relationship.
Question: What’s the difference between working with Chris Nolan and Woody Allen?
Johansson: I loved working with Chris. He’s incredibly focused and driven and involved, and really involved in the performance in every aspect. He’s incredible to watch. His crew has the utmost admiration for Chris. Of course, everybody enjoys working with Woody as well, but Chris is a younger guy and it’s really something to see someone so young, who has a real command over the set. You feel like the production’s moving along, and it’s great. He was wonderful to work with and very observant of every little thing. He allowed for a lot of creative space and also gave really precise direction. So I really liked that.
Question: What about working with Brian de Palma on The Black Dahlia?
Johansson: Brian is somebody else who commands a huge respect from his crew. He’s incredible and he’s an auteur. He’s got a taste and a style and he knows exactly what he wants. But his directing style is so stand-offish. He’s got such a respect for the whole process. It’s great.
Question: Did you learn any magic tricks?
Johansson: No, but Woody is great at magic tricks. He knows all these slight-of-hand card things. He’s incredible at it.
Question: Did you see a lot of his films?
Johansson: I’ve been seeing Woody’s films since I was way too young to be watching them. Thanks mom, for my film history. But I’ve seen almost every one of his films and I’ve always been a huge fun.