It’s the third time around for Scarlett Johansson and Woody Allen. Other actors have come and gone in Woody’s films, but after casting Johansson in Match Point, he asked her back for Scoop, and now she’s co-starring with Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall in the very sexy, bittersweet romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
As Bardem juggles relationships with his leading ladies, there’s a lot of exploration of what love is all about. And Scarlett is getting closer to the real-life answer as she and her fiancé, actor Ryan Reynolds, are on the verge of taking a walk down the aisle.
You’ve spent a lot of time on film sets with Woody Allen. How would you describe your relationship?
In real life? It would sort of be like a young woman, great-uncle. Let’s say a young blossoming woman and a sort of droopy, Jewish kind of yenta. Oy, he’s such a diva. He won’t do anything until he gets his muffins in the morning. It’s out of control. Actually, I worship Woody and I’d do anything on one of his movies.
What’s the biggest misconception about him?
That he’s not a people person, which is absolutely not true. Woody is very friendly but also really shy. I think most people are afraid to approach him. He really loves to talk and joke with people. I mean, he’s a showman. And that doesn’t just go away when he’s not on a stage. Woody is a stand-up comedian and he loves an audience.
This is a movie that explores different kinds of love and relationships. What shaped your ideas about that?
Growing up it was probably Rodgers and Hammerstein movies like Flower Drum Song and Oklahoma. They represented the ideal kind of love, I believed in that kind of girlie-girl and manly-man thing where he would sweep her off her feet. I think a lot of young girls still get that whether it’s watching Disney cartoons or Cinderella. It’s an ideal perspective on love and how it develops. Then of course as you get older you realize that relationships are very complicated and people are complicated.
Now you’re engaged to be married. Has that changed what love is all about for you?
It’s funny. I don’t even question it. I’m just so fortunate to be in a very solid and comfortable relationship. I’m in a good place in my life right now. I’m a really big believer in loving yourself before you can give love to somebody else. The healthiest and most inspiring relationships are the ones where you’re so comfortable with the other person that you actually learn more about yourself or explore different aspects of yourself that you could never appreciate before. You can almost do that through the other person’s eyes. And I think you do the same for them. I think that now that’s really my idea of love between two people.
Speaking of love between two people—much has been made of the fact that you and Penelope Cruz share a kiss in the movie.
Everybody wants to know what it was like. Penelope had less facial hair than a guy so it was certainly more pleasant. It was better than kissing Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in Match Point. Kissing him wasn’t that bad, but he did have to stop and shave in the middle of a scene even though he’d shaved that morning. The man has really got some beard on him. Anyway, there’s not a lot of sex in the movie.
But there is an exploration of different kinds of relationships, including a ménage a trois between you, Penelope and Javier.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with experimenting with different lifestyles, especially when you’re young, but at any time in your life. Sometimes you expect something is going to go one way and it doesn’t turn out, or sometimes the unexpected happens and it’s positive. If you’re not open to that, I think you can’t live life to the fullest.
So would you impulsively run off for a weekend with Javier like your character does in the film?
If I wasn’t spoken for I’d probably go, if Javier Bardem walked up to my table in a restaurant in that red satin shirt he wears in the film. I mean, why not? I think that’s one part of my character that I do really appreciate, that kind of seize the day attitude. You have to live life.
Even when you were a teenager, people described you as mature. Did you feel all grown-up?
I don’t put up with a lot of B.S. Does that make me mature? I think I’ve grown up with a great awareness of my surroundings and an awareness of other people. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes I wish I wasn’t so sensitive. There’s this big misconception that once you’re, like, 21 you’re an adult. But it’s so not true. It can happen to you at any age and some people never grow up.