Remember when Howard Stern was calling himself “the King of all Media” back in the 90s? In 2013, there’s a new celebrity multi-tasker deserving of that crown: Scarlett Johansson. Over the last decade, there are very few creative outlets left that she hasn’t at least dabbled in. There are the films, of course—the reason her fame is so deserved are movies like Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World, Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation. But she hasn’t focused solely on art house flicks and Oscar bait. She’s done romantic comedy throwaways like He’s Just Not That Into You and The Nanny Diaries, kid’s fare like Home Alone 3 and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, and action popcorn flicks like The Avengers, Iron Man 2, and the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
And that’s not even scratching the surface of her bursting-at-the-seams resumé. She’s been on Broadway, most recently as Maggie in a revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She’s recorded two albums, 2008’s Anywhere I Lay My Head (a collection of Tom Waits covers) and 2009’s Break Up (a collaborative with Pete Yorn). She’s starred in advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein and L’Oréal, and just appeared in a new commercial for Dolce & Gabbana, the Italian fashion house, which paired her with Matthew McConaughey and was directed by Martin freakin’ Scorsese. She’s stumped for Obama in the last two elections, and acts as a Global Ambassador for Oxfam, a nonprofit relief and development group. She has strong political opinions, and the calluses on her feet to back them up.
Her dating life is a mainstay not just of gossip mags, but all global news sources. Are you aware she recently got engaged to French journalist Romain Dauriac? If you have an Internet connection, basic cable, or any contact with the outside world, you probably do. Johansson is so culturally omnipresent that she even appears in things she doesn’t want to. A character sharing her name made a cameo in the new novel The First Thing We Look At, and Johansson responded with a lawsuit. Gregoire Delacourt, the author, seemed legitimately stunned. “I had thought it more likely that she’d call and invite me for a coffee,” he said of the starlet.
We called Johansson in Paris, France, to talk about her latest film, Don Jon—written, directed and co-starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt—now playing in theaters pretty much everywhere. True to her reputation, Johansson is delightful in conversation; funny and outgoing, instantly warm and quick to laugh. She’s exactly what you want her to be, which is almost never the case. Hollywood is built on smoke and mirrors. But Johansson delivers as promised.
It seems like we’ve been chasing you around the globe.
Yeah, sorry about that.
No, no, you’ve got a hectic schedule. We can’t even imagine. In the last few weeks along, you’ve gone from Venice to Paris to New York City to Paris again. Does it sometimes feel like you’re a train hobo with more money?
I guess it does, yeah. But you know, when duty calls, you’ve got to be there. It’s crazy to publicize two films at the same time, and I wrapped Captain America 2 not that long ago, which involved a few different locations. It’s definitely been around the world in three months or something. Normally I like to stay put.
Yeah. But most of the time, home is a movie set. That’s as stable as it gets. But then the movie’s over and the press train starts to roll.
That sounds like a Tom Waits lyric.
The press train starts to roll? It does, doesn’t it? It feels like that sometimes.
When you get to a new city, how long does it take to get your sea legs? Or have you done this for so long that you barely notice the time change between New York to Paris?
New York to Paris is a pretty easy commute, I find.
Are you serious? It’s like a seven hour flight and a six hour time difference.
It’s usually an overnight plane trip, and coming into either city is pretty magical. And actually, both places are pretty similar. They’re like sister cities. For both of them, you have to walk to really appreciate them.
What about cities you’re visiting for the first time?
Oh yeah. When I’m traveling and I visit someplace I’ve never been to before, I’ll make a checklist of everything I want to see, just to get a flavor of the city.
So you’re a tourist?
With a 5am call time?