As the star of numerous blockbuster films, Scarlett Johansson understands that CGI has become a necessity in Hollywood. In our exclusive interview, we spoke to her about how CGI and acting coincide, as well as the differences between a massive film and a minimalist production.
Innovation & Tech Today: Looking back at your history with acting, there’s a lot of classic theatre 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 theatre 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.
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Featured Image Courtesy Of Flickr user Gage Skidmore
Interview by Paul French