With its world premiere set to close NYFF next Saturday night, Spike Jonze's romance “Her” is one film on our radars for many reasons: it marks the director's first film since 2007's “Where The Wild Things Are,” features soundtrack contributions from Karen O and Arcade Fire (who's handling the score), and also promises some interesting work from Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson's voice. Yes, the actress will only supply her talents in vocal form this time as a distant-future computer operating system, and in a recent interview she delved into exactly what that process entailed.
Johansson spoke with director Darren Aronofsky for the latest issue of Interview Magazine, and within she described her experience working with Jonze, with whom she was working for the first time. She already knew him through “Moneyball” director Bennett Miller, but when he asked her to come in for an trial voice session to go over the script (penned by Jonze) and a rough cut of the film, the session lasted nine hours. Needless to say, she got the part.
“I didn't know whether what I brought to it would work for him because he'd already shot the film and had to fit whatever it was that we did into what he'd already shot,” she said. “I saw a couple of his takes with Joaquin [Phoenix], and did a little bit of work there. But what I thought was going to be four days of recording turned into a really involved process. At times, I would even record with Joaquin, who really made himself available in an amazing way.”
The film follows Phoenix's character, a recently heartbroken man who slowly falls for his highly advanced computer; when it came to recording this dynamic in a Hollywood voice studio, Johansson found several options presented to her. “[Joaquin] was in the room. So we did several sessions with him. Then sometimes I would do sessions with Spike where I would act opposite him, or I would act opposite the playback just to see how that was. But it was a very different experience from being on set.”
She later commented on the refreshing way that the film deals with love, likening her character and Phoenix's to any other relationship. “Even though the film takes place in the future, and Samantha isn't human, the kinds of conversations that occur between your character and Joaquin's character are the kinds of conversations that everyone has in relationships. It was just such a spectacular way to think about romance and love—and as people grow apart or become dependent on each other, how honest conversations break down and start to get filled with dishonesty. Despite the futuristic setting, it was an interesting way to comment on what relationships are like in the contemporary world.”
You can read more of Johansson's comments on the matter over at Interview, but expect a first glimpse of what she's talking about next week when it premieres at NYFF, before it hits theatres on December 18th.