“I’ve been talking about that costume for days. Everyone is crazy with questions. I’m so sick of guys asking about it”
SCARLETT JOHANSSON curls into a ball on the couch and puts her head in her hands. She emits a little rasp in mock anguish. Huzzah. It’s a bit like hearing Paul Daniels say “Not a lot” or meeting Keith Richards out on the tiles of an evening.
“It was a good premiere last night,” she groans. “But it was a little too good. All that screaming. I felt like Tiffany or something.” Fatigue, however, has not prevented the Marvel Avengers Assemble star from attempting to steal my Lego.
“I have a Lego? Is that my Lego?” she cries, as she cradles my Black Widow action figure: now available as an awesome Lego piece. “Oh my God.” I’m not crazy about her eyebrows, I say. “No! No! I don’t know what you’re talking about. She is totally rad. I love Black Widow as a Lego. Look at her curvy waist. It’s drawn on and everything. This is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve always, always loved Lego.
“Oh wow! My hair comes off – oh God – did you know this? I have two faces. Look here I am with my fighting face, and here I am looking . . .”
She lowers her voice into a second trademark rasp: “Look. It’s my nicer face. I so don’t want to give her back to you. But you kind of look like her with the red hair and everything. So I got to.”
It is only fair. Today, dressed in white, with her blonde hair scraped back, Johansson is not looking at all like Black Widow, her asskicking alter ego from Marvel Avengers Assemble.
“I’m not anything like her, not in looks, not in anything,” says Johansson. “We both have lot of conviction: other than that I can’t think that we’re at all similar. It’s funny because since making the film I have a very inflated idea of my badassedness. I keep thinking I could actually take my co-stars down in real life. But actually I’m not at all badass.” She looks pretty hard onscreen at least. “Yeah, but that was the fun part for me,” she says. “In reality I was so broken all the time; ice bags all over my body; covered in injuries. I was never an athlete growing up. I was never sporty. So I had no idea that I was capable of any of this stuff. It was fun discovering how far I could push myself.”
The Avengers – or Marvel’s Avengers Assemble as they’ve bizarrely dubbed the film in this territory – is a huge deal. The cross-pollinated
mega-movie has been hinted at in Marvel epi- logues for years. Fans will happily tell you that Buffy creator Joss Whedon has produced an experience that was well worth the wait.
At any rate, after many post-credit waitouts, Johansson has squeezed into a slinky body suit so that her Black Widow can take up arms alongside Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’s Captain America, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.
The very mention of the outfit – even in passing – crumples Johansson anew: “I’ve been talking about that costume for days. Everyone is crazy with questions about that costume. I’m so sick of guys asking about it. The thing is right before we started I was lifting all these weights and eating raw vegan. But the only reason I was doing that was to fix my previous diet because that was a Paleo diet. So I’ve had the extreme of everything. Because when you’re training you rely on your trainer to help you lose muscle and gain muscle and whatever it takes to change your body. So I’m always following some crazy regime. And after lots of fighting and training and raw vegan food you can fit into a cat suit.”
It’s unfair, she says, that her male colleagues, who are all poured into Lycra and tights too, don’t get quizzed about being buff to the same degree.
“Everybody’s costume is revealing. Look at some of the guys. You can see their whole body in some of those clothes. I met with Marvel early on and they understand the pitfalls of the superhero movie better than anybody. They never wanted Black Widow to be eye candy. Those characters are so lame and silly. And I don’t have anything to contribute to a movie like that.
“We all wanted to get away from that overly sexualised thing. But at the same time these characters have to look badass and sexy. And I know that when you wear a cat suit it is what it is.”
At 27, Scarlett Johansson has had enough of being a sex symbol. She is a Hollywood starlet so it’s not so unusual that miles of column inches are devoted to her failed marriage to Ryan Reynolds (2008-11), her rebound relationship