Sunday 21 December 2014

Scarlett: The truth about my threesome

Scarlett Johansson's three-in-a-bed scene with Penelope Cruz has all the world agog. But, she tells, Pippa Smith: There is only one man for me

Pippa Smith

Published 16/08/2008 | 00:00

Scene: Scarlett Johansson
Scene: Scarlett Johansson

There are many comparisons between the sexy movie star and the real Scarlett Johansson. But there is one thing she does on screen that she would never do in real life -- share her man with another woman.

While men across the world are drooling in anticipation of a threesome involving the Hollywood beauty and her co-star Penelope Cruz, Scarlett is positively appalled by the reality of such a scenario. "Contrary to popular belief, I am not promiscuous," she says, as if to prove her point.

At 23, Scarlett is settling down. She and her 31-year-old actor partner Ryan Reynolds announced their engagement in May.

So while the actress is sharing lesbian moments and steamy tangles with Penelope and her real-life boyfriend Javier Bardem on screen, in the real world Scarlett is happily organising her wedding and revelling in being a bride-to-be. In fact, the once serial dater has gone on record as saying that monogamy is the foundation of her new relationship and that in Ryan she believes she has truly found her soul mate.

What she believes in doesn't get in the way of another storming performance in Vicky Cristina Barcelona -- her third movie with Woody Allen.

Scarlett plays a man-mad American who travels to Spain with her engaged girl pal, only for them both to fall for the same dark and sexy artist. Penelope Cruz is the ex-wife who arrives back on the scene to share in the affections of Javier and the new woman in his life -- literally, as it turns out.

"It's funny because obviously I'm lucky I have a couple of really good, very close girlfriends who have similar interests to mine," says Scarlett, doing her best to draw comparisons between her character and herself. "They're not actors but we have a certain aesthetic or things we like to do. But when it comes to men, you're always going to differ from another woman about what she likes and what she's into; how you feel about her boyfriend and how she feels about your boyfriend and all of that stuff.

"I try not to get into that kind of thing. Of course, it's great to be able to be so close with a girl that you could both talk about these things and get some relief from another woman's perspective. But, fortunately, I've never been in such a specific situation where I was on a vacation and one girl wanted to go guy crazy and I was left in the hotel.

"I think with most of my girlfriends, we're pretty solid. We go away together because we want to see each other, you know?"

It's not just good friends that are helping Scarlett survive the rigours of growing up in Hollywood. Her fiancé has given her reason to leave some of her hellraising ways behind and look forward to the future.

The couple met after Reynolds split from singer Alanis Morissette, and Johansson parted from actor Josh Hartnett, whom she had been dating for a little less than a year.

Before that, she had been seen on a string of hot dates with Justin Timberlake, Jared Leto and Benicio Del Toro, but she's never been one to kiss and tell. She will barely confirm her current state of engagement. "It's nice to have everybody not know your business," she says by way of explaining her reticence to discuss her love life. On-screen is another matter, and Scarlett is acclaimed as one of the most daring young actresses in Hollywood.

From her child actor days with Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer, hard-hitting dramas such as Girl With A Pearl Earring, Black Dahlia and The Other Boleyn Girl, to action romps such as The Island, Scarlett has proved to be up for anything of worth.

The threesome with Cruz and Bardem in Vicky Cristina Barcelona was met with the same level of professionalism as any other scene for any other movie by the actress -- in fact, she wonders what all the fuss is about.

"It's funny because people are so conservative," she sighs. "It's amazing. When you see the film, these characters fall in love and that's what people who fall in love are -- intimate.

"Also, when you're shooting it's so horribly not intimate. There are like 60 grown men eating salami sandwiches waiting for when they can get off work and watch the game or whatever. You just think, 'God, are we rolling, because there are, like, trays of food being passed around? Oh, we are rolling, okay ... '

"Nobody cares when you're doing it. It's like your day at work and this is part of the story. Then, of course, people get wind of what's coming and they get excited because they associate two women who wear gowns at an awards show and like, gosh, the possibilities, you know? It's ridiculous.

"Of course, that's how it always is. I think there's a lot of chemistry between the characters and all of us as actors, and that's where the steaminess comes from. It's not really explicit. I mean, it's just people kissing. There's nothing crazy about it."

Such has been the hype around that one scene that reports have stated this to be Woody Allen's steamiest movie ever -- despite its PG rating.

"I don't know about that," Scarlett continues. "When you're working you're so isolated that I never even open the newspaper.

"You're so tired, you come home, you're exhausted. I never research what the world thinks about the film.

"The idea of it being Woody Allen's steamiest film is so ridiculous to me. He's so conservative with that kind of thing. It's sweet and I think he's quite respectful of the relationship."

Working with Woody once, let alone three times, is something Scarlett sees as a pinnacle in her already colourful career.

Born in New York and raised in Manhattan by her Danish architect father and producer mother, Scarlett showed promise as a performer from an early age and shared her parents' love of watching Woody Allen movies.

It was her film buff mother, Melanie Sloan, who encouraged Scarlett to follow her dream as did her older sister, Vanessa, and twin brother Hunter who are also actors. In the Nineties, Scarlett landed a number of movie roles after her mother ran her around to countless auditions. The Horse Whisperer won her praise and attention, but in 2003 it was Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation that saw her emerge from child star to leading lady.

Even now, Scarlett is reminded of that performance as the troubled girlfriend who has nothing better to do in Tokyo than be the object of Bill Murray's desires.

A recent clip of that memorable last scene of the movie, which puts words to Scarlett and Bill's farewell clinch, has hit the internet.

"I didn't even know about that clip," shrugs Scarlett. "Nothing was written for that scene and we did it so many times I really couldn't tell you what was said.

"I think it's unfortunate that people can't just appreciate the film-maker's decision to not have that heard.

"There's a poetry in that scene. People are obsessed with discovering the secret of everything and uncovering the code. It's sad."

From Lost in Translation to now, one thing has remained the same for Scarlett. She makes a point of never conforming to stereotypes.

That, she says, is why she loves working with her movie hero. "Woody writes such fantastic female roles," she says.

"He has such an appreciation and understanding for the intricacies of the female mind. I mean, such an appreciation. I think he would say that we're a superior species or something. He loves women -- the way we think -- and it's always some inspired character with him."

And Woody is no less glowing in his appraisal of Scarlett, whom he first directed in Match Point. During recent interviews for his new movie he described the star as one of the few actresses in Hollywood who can truly apply her talents to any role.

"After the monthly payments I send him, he would say that," laughs Scarlett, clearly uncomfortable with having praise heaped upon her. "I'm always surprised at how fortunate I've been. I can never quite understand what's happening and I always feel lucky to be employed. So, for me, it's such a high compliment for him to see me in any role or that he can imagine me doing anything. As an actor, that's the best compliment. I've worked with Woody three times and it's really been a dream come true for me as an actor. There's no higher compliment, certainly."

Scarlett is having to get used to compliments for other talents, too.

Her debut album as a singer, featuring the songs of Tom Waits, went down a storm when it was released earlier this year, while her knack of pulling off just the right look on the red carpet has made her the darling of the fashion brigade.

As a modern-day exponent of vintage Tinseltown glamour with her blonde hair, busty figure and red lips, she has even been likened to Marilyn Monroe.

"Hopefully I won't have a tragic end like her," she jokes, again in an attempt to keep her modesty. "No, I like to change my look from time to time and enjoy my feminine side. Not that I see myself as some kind of beauty or fashion icon.

"I'm never going to be a supermodel kind of girl. I work with what I've got and that is curves. I eat well and work out occasionally. I don't really like going to the gym. Any more than once every three or four days is a real struggle for me.

"Other than that, I slap on some red lipstick and mess around with my hair and enjoy being glamorous if I can."

Just as she's happy to inspire women with her curves, Scarlett is equally aware that she can make a difference just by being herself and not working her movie star status. "I'm only human," she says. "I think everyone has times when they struggle with where to go now.

"I've been fortunate enough always to know what I wanted to do, what I was passionate about. I never had to struggle with that. But even then there are all kinds of questions you have about where you go from here and, of course, personal times when I felt that way.

"I think people will see something of that in this movie. I can identify with certain aspects of my character's philosophy.

"I was inspired by her sort of seize-the-day attitude and her willingness to let life kind of happen in front of her.

"Sometimes you just have to take a chance and live, live, live! I think that's what I do."

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