In our exclusive interview with Scarlett Johansson, we touched on no shortage of fascinating subjects. The snippet below showcases just a few of these topics, from the inclusion of cybersecurity in film to how CGI interacts with the art of filmmaking. We even got to speak about everyone’s favorite topic: the smell of bacon cooking.
Innovation & Tech Today: More and more movies are incorporating cyber security as a plot device (and, of course, it’s topical). Do you think this will continue to be an obsession in cinema and, if so, why?
Scarlett Johansson: Well, I think so, because it’s topical like you said and it’s a good threat. It has a good threat component. It’s a powerful threatening component in any of these stories, like the total takeover. I think as we realize how vulnerable we are, how dependent we’ve become on, whatever you want to call it, cyber intelligence. I can barely like operate a Blackberry. But I think we’ve sort of suddenly, in the past couple years, gone, “Oh, wait, there’s a dark side to this.” I think we, as a society, had been kind of living blissfully and consuming information and also leaving information and have rarely thought about what the long term or even the short term consequences are. And now it’s certainly like it’s really come back. It’s like a beast, seemingly with no end in sight. So I think it will continue to be a trend, definitely. And it certainly works well for plot device.
I&T Today: It’s definitely a double-edged sword. And speaking of that, looking back at your history with acting, there’s a lot of classic theater experience, like your work in the Tennessee Williams play. Of course, you also play in a lot of big budget films that employ CGI, and I know some actors have talked about struggling with that relationship in the past. You’ll see clips of them in front of blue screens and they’re trying to imagine what’s in front of them. How would you describe your relationship between your art and the new technologies that help facilitate it?
SJ: Acting in any kind of a CGI environment doesn’t really change the process of acting so much. I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s much different than any other kind of contemporary theater piece. It depends on how something is staged. I mean, I remember seeing a production of Our Town not that long ago, and the stage was almost completely bare, just chairs, and that was it. And the whole cast was just in that kind of zone. They were experiencing, probably, a similar thing to how any other actor does in a CGI environment. I don’t think it’s that different. You’re making a kind of unbelievable experience seem believable, I guess And, when you’re really in it and you’re emoting and you’re experiencing the character’s emotional journey, it doesn’t really matter what’s in front of you, I guess. You’d be surprised at how you can kind of surprise yourself. And I think, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to suspend disbelief much more easily for some reason. I think, because I’m maybe less self-conscious as an actor, and so I can go far in an environment where in the past I would have felt self-conscious and a little weird. But it doesn’t seem to have so much of a difference, I don’t think.
I&T Today: I’ve actually never thought of it that way. That Our Town production is a good example. It’s true that you don’t have that many resources really on the stage either.
SJ: I mean, you can sometimes. But sometimes you don’t. I remember in that production at the end of the show when they’re cooking the bacon, and all of a sudden they introduce the element of, like, real bacon cooking. And because you smell it, it was so mystical. It was really an amazing experience. It was really a success because I think there was this journey with the characters and kind of just letting their imagination free and trusting the actors to take them where they wanted to go. So when this real element was added, it was pretty powerful.
Featured Image Courtesy Of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Interview by P.K. French