Why did Scarlett Johansson like being a sexy sociopath in ‘Asteroid City’?
Ready for a celestial journey featuring some of Hollywood’s brightest stars? We’re jetting back into Wes Anderson’s imaginative world with Scarlett Johansson at the helm.
In Anderson’s latest offering, Asteroid City, Johansson leads an all-star ensemble including Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, and Margot Robbie. Fresh off her voice acting role in Anderson’s 2018 stop-motion-animated film, Isle of Dogs, Johansson is no stranger to the whimsical charm and eccentricity characteristic of this renowned director.
Now showing in New York and Los Angeles and hitting theaters nationwide this Friday, Asteroid City is a stellar fusion of cosmic comedy and mid-century nostalgia.
Set in a small desert town in the 1950s, the film orbits a children’s science conference that takes a chaotic turn when an alien drops in from the stars. Quarantine quickly ensues, leading to government officials scurrying for answers and stirring up some stellar laughs.
Johansson, 38, portrays Midge Campbell, a lonely, sexy, glamorous film star whose genius daughter (Grace Edwards) pulls her into this quirky sci-fi conference.
Campbell’s celestial romance with a fellow parent, Augie (Jason Schwartzman), is set against the backdrop of their motel bungalows’ windows. Through these windows, Midge requests Augie to snap her photos and run lines of tragic dialogue, painting a glamorous yet somber picture of her life.
The character of Midge Campbell is certainly a shift from Johansson’s past roles. “She’s sort of a sociopath, which I think is great about her,” Johansson says. Delving into the mindset of someone so self-absorbed was an interesting challenge for her, which she took on with sexy humor and equally sexy enthusiasm.
Anderson, who first met Johansson about 20 years ago, crafted the character of Midge drawing inspiration from Golden Age Hollywood icons Marilyn Monroe, Kim Stanley, and Joanne Woodward. “Suddenly, there she is in this window playing the scene… ‘She reminds me of Gena Rowlands. I feel like I’m seeing a (John) Cassavetes movie in this window,’ ” Anderson recounts.
Joining Johansson and Schwartzman is a dazzling ensemble, including Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Jeffrey Wright, Adrien Brody, and the iconic Tom Hanks. Hanks, making his debut in an Anderson film, brings a silent strength to the role of Augie’s father-in-law, evoking what Anderson described as a “Mount Rushmore feeling.”
The camaraderie was palpable both on and off set, with the Asteroid City team sharing group dinners and carpooling to the movie’s Cannes Film Festival red carpet. Johansson, who last appeared on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 2013, cherished this close-knit, theatre-like atmosphere, sparking her desire to return to the stage.
Since wrapping up Asteroid City, Johansson has been eager to revisit the stage, where she bagged a Tony Award for best featured actress for Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge in 2010. Johansson is enthused by the possibility of future collaborations with her fellow thespians, particularly Jeffrey Wright.
So, after this intergalactic cinematic adventure, could Broadway be the next stop for Scarlett Johansson? As we eagerly anticipate the nationwide release of “Asteroid City,” we can’t help but wonder: What will be the next stage for this talented starlet? Will she return to the theater, or will we be catching her next sexy act on the silver screen?