She first grabbed the spotlight as an affected hipster teen in Ghost World, but actress Scarlett Johansson is now grappling with a whole new world: That of awards shows, Oscar buzz and It girl status. Johansson, 19, has turned heads this year both for her role opposite Bill Murray in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation and for her titular role in the new film Girl with a Pearl Earring, playing a servant who becomes the artistic inspiration for 17th-century painter Vermeer.
Johansson recently talked about awards shows, shooting in Europe and being an “old soul.”
So, what do you make of the Oscar talk surrounding your work this year?
Um, yeah, it is kind of strange. It’s kind of fun. It would be so unreal, that whole thing, that I don’t really think about it. It would be incredible to be recognized – it always is when you work hard at something. People buy movie tickets for something you’ve done. That’s a reward right there.
Do you think about what you’ll be doing on Oscar night?
Recently, somebody said to me, “Oh that dress looks amazing on you! You should definitely wear it to the awards this year!” And I was like, “What? I plan on eating Chinese food with my dad and watching on TV.” Looking and pointing, like, “Look at what she’s wearing.” I just couldn’t even respond, you know? I’ve never been to the Oscars. Because you can’t just go. You have to be invited.
So, your character in Pearl Earring is derived from a real painting.
It’s very romantic. You look at old photographs and you say, “God, what was going on in that moment.” It’s the same with a painting. It’s all very romantic in your head. Like the Mona Lisa – that’s why people are so attracted to it. What’s going on in her head? Is she smiling? Is she smirking? I’ve always been interested (in art).
What was it like shooting in Europe?
Mostly we shot on a set in Luxembourg. We had an incredible outdoor set with working canals and everything. It was so beautiful. And all of the stuff in the house and in the studio and in the cellar was like a four-story working set built on the soundstage. It was so weird. Even the courtyard outside where I’m hanging laundry was part of the set.
Your mom also visited the set?
She visited me and stayed. She became really close with the producer and the director and everybody. It was nice to have her around.
Despite your age, people have called you an ‘old soul.’
That’s what they say.
Do you like that label?
I don’t know what that means. I mean, I know what it means. It’s nice if people recognize something inside you that makes them think of you as being wise or trustworthy – the connotation that the phrase “old soul” brings with it. If I knew the ingredients, I would bottle it.