Spike Jonze’s “Her” made its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on Saturday night, and the Warner Bros. release could factor into the Oscar race like no other film ever before. That’s because Scarlett Johansson — who co-stars with Joaquin Phoenix in the film, but doesn’t appear onscreen — gives such a remarkable performance that she could wind up with an historic Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Jonze’s film, a near-future tale about a man (Phoenix) who falls in love with his computer operating system (voiced by Johansson), received high praise from many critics following its debut, with most singling out Johansson’s voice work as exceptional.
“It’s Johansson who pulls off the trickiest feat: She creates a complex, full-bodied character without any body at all. Detached from her lethally curvaceous figure, the actress’ breathy contralto is no less seductive, but it also alights with tenderness and wonder as Samantha, both here on Earth and up there in the Cloud, voraciously devours literature, philosophy and human experience,” wrote Variety critic Scott Foundas.
“Johansson’s work in the film is lovely, and the best thing about the way she plays the part is that there’s nothing calculated or ‘sexy’ about the way she approaches it. Removed from the undeniable sweater-girl appeal she packs when she’s onscreen, forced to rely only on her voice, Johansson comes across as a warm, curious, vibrant personality. It’s incredibly appealing,” echoed HitFix critic Drew McWeeny. (HuffPost Entertainment was in the tank for Johansson as well.)
With regard to Johansson’s Oscar bona fides, the issue becomes slightly tricky. As Deadline.com’s Pete Hammond pointed out, non-traditional “flesh-and-blood” acting roles — like Andy Serkis, who did revolutionary motion-capture work as Gollum in the “Lord of the Rings” films — are normally ignored by Academy Awards voters. Johansson’s performance appears somewhat different, however, as she’s not helped by any technical tricks or animation.
THE FIRST HOUR:
THOUGHTS ON PENMANSHIP, BLOODLESS CAREERISM, AND SLEEPING
Four-fifty on a Thursday afternoon, deep in a shadowy bar at a hotel called the Nomad, downtown Manhattan, and Scarlett Johansson actually wants to write. I give her a little hotel pad, maybe four-by-six, which she grabs in her small, ringless fingers. She takes my pen eagerly.
“What do you want me to write?” she says. She will write what I tell her, she says.
I don’t know. “Don’t you have a little passage memorized?” I ask. “A little Shakespeare, maybe? ‘Oh, for a muse of fire,’ something like that?”
However you feel about Scarlett Johansson as an actress, a movie star, or a celebrity—and she is, at this stage, most definitely all three of those things—this much is undeniable: she has a certain appeal. She is tremendously talented, to be sure, but never seems to transform into a black hole of tetchy method madness. Her beauty, too, isn’t hesitant—on screen, she is a focus magnet—but neither is it inaccessible. In the decade since her breakthrough in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003), her precocious ingénue halo has also quietly dissipated, and she has grown into a woman who clearly contains multitudes: she’s a Woody Allen muse and a superhero, with the gravitas (and the smoky timbre) to sing an album of Tom Waits songs and a face that is frequently used to sell luxury goods.
“I’m not the jealous type who does background checks,” his new fiancée Scarlett Johansson told reporters at Tuesday’s premiere of her new movie Don Jon at the Toronto International Film Festival. “I’m not that type of girlfriend.”
Johansson, 28, rocked the red carpet in a little black dress and flashed her engagement ring from the French journalist.
In her new movie, the Avengers star plays a demanding, gum-snapping Jersey girl who tries to change her new boyfriend’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) personality.
“I am guilty of this, and so are many people – you just want your partner to fit into the box you constructed for them. It’s easier that way,” she says. “It’s kind of like, ‘Why can’t you be more like me?’ I think that’s what we all want.”
But Johansson says that experience has taught her how to keep these impulses in check.
“The challenges of a relationship are what help you grow into an evolved person,” she says.
Scarlett Johansson is engaged to her beau, journalist Romain Dauriac, PEOPLE has learned exclusively.
“They’re engaged and very happy,” a source says of the couple. A rep for the actress had no comment.
The proposal occurred about a month ago. The ring is a vintage Art Deco ring.
Earlier this week, the actress, 28, was spotted wearing the diamond stunner while in Italy promoting her new sci-fi film Under the Skin at the Venice International Film Festival.
Over the past year, Johansson had been spotted wearing diamond rings on her left hand. The last time was in July, when she arrived in Los Angeles wearing an ornate gold ring with a diamond and ruby. That bauble, though, was “simply a piece of jewelry.”
Scarlett Johansson is seeking to avenge the unauthorized use of her name in a French novel in a suit filed against publisher JC Lattes. She’s seeking compensation and damages from the “breach and fraudulent use of personal rights,” as well as a ban on “future transfer of rights and adaptations of the book.”
In the novel The First Thing We Look At, a woman shows up at the door of a mechanic in the northern village of Somme seeking help. At first the mechanic believes she is ‘Scarlett Johansson,’ though sixty pages later it is revealed she is not the actress but simply a doppelganger named Jeanine Foucaprez.
Author Gregoire Delacourt told newspaper Le Figaro that he was “stunned” when he was informed of the suit Friday morning, and also noted that he compared the main male character to Ryan Gosling and his boss to Gene Hackman in the book as an almost immediate way to invoke recognition of characteristics for readers.
“This corresponds with the fantasies of our times. All these famous people live with us,” he said, noting that many personal details of Johansson’s love life have been revealed on the Internet and the public feels as if it knows her. “But I wrote a book of fiction. My character is not Scarlett Johansson, it is Jeanine Foucaprez!”
He describes the novel as an exploration of the “dictatorship of appearances and the true beauty of women,” and says he chose Johansson, currently the face of Dolce & Gabbana and previously Louis Vuitton, because she is considered the “epitome of beauty today.”
The First Thing We Look At has been a best-seller in France since its release on March 20.
In “Iron Man 2,” “The Avengers,” and next spring’s “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” Scarlett Johansson has exhibited (and will exhibit) her ability to kick, punch, and head-butt with the best of them. And now she’s going to get to use those skills again, after just having signed on to Luc Besson’s forthcoming thriller “Lucy,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The ludicrously amazing (or is it amazingly ludicrous?) plot of “Lucy” involves Johansson’s character having to become a drug mule for some nefarious types. But instead of transporting the drug, it goes into her system and basically turns her into Bradley Cooper from “Limitless” –- according to the report she can “absorb knowledge instantaneously, is able to move objects with her mind and can’t feel pain and other discomforts.” Presumably she uses these new abilities to get back at the guys who forced her into the drug mule business.
Besson will write and direct, as well as produce through his Europa Corp shingle. In recent years, Besson, once known for his highbrow genre fare like “The Professional” and more earnest stabs at historical dramas like “The Messenger” and 2011′s sorely underrated “The Lady,” has largely moved away from directing and instead writes and produces a whole squadron of critically crummy low-budget genre movies.
The man who made the art house hit “Le Femme Nikita” has, in his capacity as the Euro-version Roger Corman, has made three “Transformer” movies, two “Taken” films, two Jet Li kung-fu movies, two parkour-based thrillers, and whatever “Colombiana” and “Lockout” turned out to be. Later this year, he has the somewhat promising mob movie “Malavita” opening, which he both wrote and directed, and stars Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, and Michelle Pfieffer.
Johansson, for her part, will appear later this year in Joseph Gordon Levitt’s directorial debut “Don Jon” and (god willing) will be seen in Jonathan Glazer’s long-gestating sci-fi sex movie “Under the Skin.” She’ll start in on “Lucy” after her commitments on “Captain America: Winter Soldier” are complete.
At 1:45 a.m. on a Friday in January, dozens of stylish, attractive revelers began pouring into Manhattan nightclub No. 8 for the opening-night cast party for the latest Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring Scarlett Johansson as the smoldering, sexually frustrated feline Maggie. The actress arrived in a black peplum top, tight black leggings, bright red lipstick, and perfect skin, bringing to mind Sandy after her transformation in Grease. Standing by the bar, she kissed her new boyfriend, 30-year-old French creative agency manager Romain Dauriac, whispering in his ear and throwing her head back laughing. Pretty soon, everyone — her two brothers; her sister-in-law; actor Benjamin Walker (who plays Maggie’s alcoholic, sexually repressed husband) and his wife, Mamie Gummer — caught her good vibe and spilled onto the dance floor. Johansson started boogying backward toward me, inching closer to a table covered with champagne flutes. I reached down to move the table, creating a pocket of space for Johansson, who safely lingered there until shimmying out of harm’s way. I figured I would spend the rest of my life wondering if she had been trying to include me.
“Well, not if you were behind me,” she tells me a month later a Greenwich Village loft. “But we like to include everyone in a good party. That night was super-fun. I’ve never been the person who sits in the corner, orders bottle service, and judges everybody. The next day my boyfriend and I were saying, ‘We were the best dancers in the whole world last night!’” She clarifies both were “completely delusional” to think that way: “I’m sure we were absolutely, like, ridiculous together.”
This morning Johansson, 28, woke at 9 a.m., worked out with a trainer, and now feels tired after her brothers (twin Hunter and Adrian, 36) dropped by her midtown penthouse unannounced the previous night. “They’re just gross — oh, they’re just awful!” she says, laughing. “They’re just sitting on the couch, eating all my food. We gossip about family and watch stupid TV shows. But I treasure the time I get to spend with them.” Wearing a plum snowflake-patterned sweater, burgundy pants (“vintage-y, old, crummy, dirty things”), and her favorite No. 6 clogs, she comes across as a bright, fetching graduate student, not a megastar with 37 movies to her name.
Besides making movies and records (her Tom Waits cover album features two duets with David Bowie), her other commitments include being the face of Dolce & Gabbana Beauty; a global ambassador for international relief agency Oxfam; and a political activist (she was a fundraiser for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, now running for comptroller, and campaigned for both of Barack Obama’s presidential bids). Had Johansson come up in a game of word association, I might have said Ghost World, Lost in Translation, and trio of movies she made with Woody Allen.
“Everything good,” Allen says at the mention of her name. “I was enchanted with her the minute I met her, and I’ve never stopped. She’s great-looking, sexy, funny, a good dramatic actress, she can sing. I mean, she’s got it all, really.” The two keep in touch with sarcastic e-mails and lunch whenever possible. She wants him to write a Citizen Kane or Sunset Boulevard for her. “I always said that I’m going to wind up like Erich von Stroheim in Sunset Boulevard,” Allen says. “She was going to wind up the aged movie actress who everyone was in love with, and I was going to end up the director who once directed her, now her chauffeur. Anytime I have an idea, if there’s anything that she could play in it, she’s always my first option. I’d love to come up with a tremendous vehicle just for her.”
Johansson began acting in second grade, in an Off-Broadway play called Sophistry. Her breakout performance came at age 13, when she stole The Horse Whisperer from the A-list cast, three of them Oscar winners. For the past decade she hasn’t been typecast as an ingenue or a sex symbol, yet that perception persists. “She just can’t help it,” Allen says. “Her beauty and sexuality are so overwhelming — it’s a far, far bigger plus in her life than the little penalty she has to pay . . . yeah, she is God’s answer to Job.”
A major career transition for Johansson is under way. There’s her onstage work (she won the best actress Tony Award for her first Broadway role in 2010′s A View From the Bridge) and the Truman Capote debut novel, Summer Crossing, that she has adapted for the big screen and plans to direct next year. She doesn’t intend on forever playing Black Widow in comic-book blockbusters (Iron Man 2, The Avengers, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which began filming last month), but she would like to balance commercial roles with thought-provoking projects like Under the Skin, based on the Michel Faber novel in which her alien character delivers hitchhikers to a grisly fate. “In The Avengers, a lot of the characters are quite deep and flawed,” she says. “Not that it will make grown men cry.”
Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, first met Johansson when they costarred in the 2004 teen heist movie The Perfect Score. “She is who she is, and she is unapologetic,” he says. “When you’re around her, you feel an honesty that brings out the honesty in you. She has an old soul. I’m a few years older than she is, but I still feel like her younger brother. To this day, she still seems a little more wordily and intelligent than most people in the room.” Evans says that if you were going on a caravan road trip, you would want Johansson in your car: “She’s very spontaneous, and she can make something fun out of nothing. Anything that seems interesting or adventurous, she’ll go for it — and her willingness breeds a kind of allegiance. Before you know it, you’re having a good time when you didn’t even know you could.”
An example of her spontaneity, for which Evans apologizes to Johansson for revealing (“I’m going to tell it anyway! Because it is who Scarlett is”): While they were in Ohio filming The Avengers, they went to a bar. “We get a couple beers, and Scarlett says, ‘We should get onstage and sing a song!’ And this is the type of balls that Scarlett has: She walks up to the band, asks if they know ‘Rocky Raccoon,’ and she sings it — flawlessly, mind you — to about 15 people sucking down beers in some dive bar in Cleveland. It was surreal. It was phenomenal. It was hysterical.”
With the first weekend of the Sundance Film Festival behind us, the mecca of independent film segues into phase two: the buying frenzy. While new films will continue to roll out and amass buzz, ones that hit earlier in the week are already being chased by movie studios looking for the next breakout hit. In the first wave of hits, Sundance’s big winner is none other than veteran Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Deadline reports that Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, Don Jon’s Addiction, has been picked up for release by Relativity Media (American Reunion, this weekend’s Movie 43) for an unprecedented $4 million, an additional $25 million commitment to marketing the movie, and a promise of 2,000 screen release planned for this summer. That’s a lot of dough for a little indie comedy, but Gordon-Levitt’s film isn’t exactly Little Miss Sunshine. Instead, the Dark Knight Rises actor delivered a raunchy romantic comedy that goes the extra mile to shock.