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Scarlett Johansson Was Unsure About 'We Bought A Zoo' At First; Says 'Summer Crossing' Doesn't Have A Part For A Big Star

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by Kevin Jagernauth
November 24, 2011 1:04 PM
6 Comments
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Scarlett Johansson

It's hard to believe that Scarlett Johansson is only 27 years old. The actress carries herself with the air and beauty of an old-school movie star, but has the wit and wisdom of your favorite drinking buddy. What she's accomplished so far on the big screen is impressive, and what's more exciting is that we're only at the beginning of what is likely be a long, varied and fascinating career. A testament to how diverse she has become can be seen in her next trio of movies -- Cameron Crowe's holiday crowd-pleaser "We Bought A Zoo"; the geek fave "The Avengers" and Jonathan Glazer's sci-fi indie "Under The Skin" -- but as she reveals to Vanity Fair in a recent profile, the material comes first.

When Johansson first read the script for 'Zoo,' where she plays the head zookeeper of the sanctuary purchased by Matt Damon's Benjamin Mee, despite her desire to work with Crowe, she had her doubts. “I don’t think there’s anything I could contribute to this,” she told the director. But with Crowe and Damon, she worked on the character to get it to a place she liked, but even then she was slightly unmoored, relying on the director to give her some room to feel things out.

“I went into 'We Bought a Zoo' and I didn’t know how to do it, exactly. I had ideas and things I wanted to do, but I was a little bit raw. I felt out of practice and a bit exposed. I was feeling very protective of myself. But Cameron’s world was very welcoming,” she explains. How that effort bears out, we'll soon see as there'll be a massive sneak preview of the film this weekend in movie theaters across the country.

But if 'Zoo' was a creative challenge, it will likely be nothing compared to "Summer Crossing," an adaptation of Truman Capote's first novel that was recently announced as Johansson's feature directorial debut. Playwright Tristin Skyler is adapting the story, that takes place over the course of a hot summer in 1945 New York City, centering on the 17-year-old Grady, from a well-to-do Prostestant family living on Fifth Avenue, who enters a torrid affair with a Jewish parking attendant, winds up marrying him, and becomes pregnant. It's exactly the kind of period/character piece studios don't finance much anymore, and as an added challenge in pulling the movie together, Johansson reveals there's no big movie star part either (and she won't be starring in it).

“It’s about that first love you have that’s sort of vicious, in a sense,” Johansson said, “it’s a hard sell because it’s a period film, it takes place in New York, and there’s no room for a big name. We’ll see. Fingers crossed.”

Clearly, Johansson isn't afraid of a challenge nor content to settle into easy roles. Adding Director to her resume is another way in which she continues to surprise and we'll be curious to see how "Summer Crossing" develops. But for now, you can catch her next wrangling animals and Matt Damon's heart when "We Bought A Zoo" opens on December 23rd.

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6 Comments

  • padre | November 27, 2011 2:03 AMReply

    She was a revelation in Ghost World. Anyone who thinks she can't act, needs to reacquaint themselves with that little movie. She completely stole the show out from underneath everyone else. She played a throw away sidekick character, but her acting blew away the likes of Steve Buscemi and Thora Birch. It was the first time I'd seen her in anything and I had no idea who she was. She was even a bit Plain Jane, since it was before her sex bomb looks developed. But she was magnetic and subtle. Her character's growth crept up on me and surprised me. In the end, I wanted to know more about her small character than anybody else in the film, because she pulled the center of gravity to herself. I knew I was looking at a very talented actress and a huge star in the making.

  • McRaj | November 25, 2011 10:53 AMReply

    @The Playlist:
    Harvey Weinstein is saying in some interviews that Scarlett was VERY close to being cast as Monroe in Andrew Dominik's 'Blonde' and even said she was working with Dominik before Watts was. Do you know what the story behind this is, did Johansson walk? Maybe the material was too dark.

    I really hope 'Blonde' gets made but I can't see it happening with Watts, considering she is a fair bit older than Monroe ever was and is too petite for the role in my opinion. Johansson is probably the best option and her star power would make financing easier, but if she has fallen out with Dominik in some way then she seems unlikely.

    Sources:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2011/11/23/my-week-with-marilyn-harvey-weinstein_n_1110597.html
    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/my_week_with_marilyn/news/1924016/2/five_favorite_films_and_an_interview_with_harvey_weinstein/

  • ib | November 25, 2011 3:39 AMReply

    "Appeals for boys who just want to see her sexy cleavage in movies, but apart from that she has very little to offer to the roles she has played."

    & thank god she doesn't appeal to those who insecurely make sweeping judgements against those with different opinions.

  • Lilo | November 25, 2011 1:02 AMReply

    Most boring actress ever. Appeals for boys who just want to see her sexy cleavage in movies, but apart from that she has very little to offer to the roles she has played.

  • Jayne | November 24, 2011 2:15 PMReply

    A really cute little five minute movie directed by another woman. Just thought I'd share. :D

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ANCLAoGRfg

  • Vaughn | November 24, 2011 1:32 PMReply

    Scarlett Johansson is really gorgeous and very talented. Good for her to land her first film as director. She'll be an exceptional director, just wonderful.

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