Scarlett Single! Strong! Sexy!
Scarlett Johansson interrupted a string of serious science fiction and superheroine roles for a rare comedic turn in Rough Night – and she relished it.
scarlett Johansson admits that every single day, as she filmed the hilarious comedy Rough Night, she had to try to stop herself from laughing. She didn’t always succeed.
Scarlett plays Jess, who reunites with four university friends – Pippa (Kate Mckinnon), Alice (Jillian Bell), Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and Blair (Zoë Kravitz) – for her bachelorette party in Miami. But things get wild, and they end up with a dead male stripper on their hands.
“Oh, my gosh, we were laughing non-stop!” she says. “Absolutely non-stop. Those girls are so good at what they do. I remember working with Jillian Bell and I kept going, ‘You bastard! I can’t keep a straight face.’ The things that were coming out of her mouth were just outrageous. And it was like that so many times on set.”
Rough Night was written by Paul W Downs, who plays Jess’ fiancé, and Lucia Aniello, who also directed the film. Both are key members of the creative team behind the hit comedy TV series Broad City.
When Scarlett picked up the script, she knew it was special. “It’s not all the time you read a script that is perfect and you go, ‘Oh yes, this is it.’ Like, I can see it and I’m in. That’s really rare,” she says.
Jess and her university friends head for Miami to celebrate her forthcoming wedding. She’s an aspiring politician, with an important election looming on the horizon.
“My character is a very practical, very pragmatic person,” Scarlett explains. “She’s engaged to be married to Paul’s character, Peter, who is a food writer. They are at the crossroads that a lot of young couples find themselves at when they are in their early 30s and getting married. Career is kind of taking a bit of priority over the relationship.
Jess goes on this detour for her bachelorette party, thinking, ‘Oh, this will be a boozy weekend in the middle of this election cycle; I don’t really have time for this right now.’ So it’s inconvenient.”
But once in Miami Jess reconnects with her friends and they let their hair down in style. Later, back at their rented home, one of the girls hires a stripper (Ryan Cooper) to keep the party going.
“Yes, it gets really crazy! A series of events occur and the stripper dies. For one reason or another each character justifies the disposal of this body,” Scarlett laughs. “And hilarity ensues.”
Outrageous and very funny it certainly is, but the story has a lot of heart, too, she says. “I think what makes this movie work is the fact that you really care about these characters. You can forgive the crazy circumstances because you really believe in the friendship between these women.
“Often our lives get so crowded with work and family drama. We all get caught up in the struggles of everyday life. This movie is really about appreciating the people that remind you who you really are and what you were really put on earth for.
Scarlett enjoys a stolen weekend away with her own female friends from time to time. “My favourite times are girls’ trips – when the girls get together and get to go out, dance and get crazy some nights, and have your hangover brunch,” she laughs. “You know, those times when you relax, gossip, inspire one another, read together. I am long overdue for a trip like that.” GLAMOUR Let’s start by talking about the story. SCARLETT I think this film is about those very grounding friendships and how they help us stay true to ourselves.
Friendships from our formative years that can have a lifelong impact on our lives? Yes. I certainly have those friendships that I have cherished for almost two decades at this point and in a lot of ways are the most meaningful because they’re a reflective surface that you can gaze upon and re-centre yourself, and that’s really what this film celebrates.
And we can all relate to that because everybody has those kinds of friends in their lives. I hope so. I certainly treasure mine. It’s like one of my best girlfriends – we actually met through our ex-boyfriends. They were really good friends and we always say that we dumped the boyfriends and just kept each other. [Laughs.] I think there are different ways that you come by friendships at different points in your life and they don’t always have to be the friends that you’ve had for 20 years. I think my closest friends reflect some part of myself; perhaps my own idealised version of myself and that’s probably true because they are all such great women. But I think they celebrate different or hidden aspects of your own personality. These five characters in the film are all coming from different places, their lives are in different places – but when they are together they sort of become part of some greater unit and I think that’s what people who have seen the film really respond to. They respond to the warmth of the friendship and the unexpected connections that they all have with one another.
Did the script make you laugh out loud when you first read it? It did. My daughter, Rose Dauriac, was pretty young at the time and I was about to start something and I had one week where I was going to try to take it easy before I head into it. I think it was Ghost in the Shell. And I wasn’t even looking to get anything, but my agent called me and said, “The guys that do Broad City wrote this script.” As soon as he said that,
“There are different ways that you come by friendships at different points in your life, and they don’t always have to be the friends that you’ve had for 20 years.”
“Comedy is really challenging. It’s exciting and the improvisational aspect sharpens your acting tools.”
I was excited about it. I think Broad City is so great. And I remember reading it on the couch and literally laughing out loud. I thought it was so funny. It was thrilling and it’s crazy to get stuff like that and it makes you feel like, ‘There is original content out there.’ It’s inspiring.
It’s co-written and directed by a woman, and the leads are all women. Could that have happened 15, 20 years ago? I think the rare thing is that we have a female director. Unfortunately, that’s not common. I think women in comedy have been celebrated more recently and it feels like women are finally getting their due. They are certainly there. I think, probably, behind every great male comic there is a whole bunch of comediennes in the writers’ room coming up with all the jokes. I know that from working with Saturday Night Live, I know that from seeing different writers’ circles, and it’s about time that the limelight was shared in this way. And I feel like that is a wonderful extra element to the whole thing. The movie is R-rated for references to drugs and sex. Is it your kind of humour? It’s totally my kind of humour. Lucia pushes everything to the almost unforgivable and then it’s just a process of paring it back. And that’s the great thing working with such incredibly talented comedic actors and writers. Watching them is like watching Olympic athletes. It’s such a pleasure seeing them perform and you want to be on set all the time just to see what they were going to come up with.
Would you like to do more comedy in the future? Yes. I would. I loved working with Lucia and Paul so much. I would love to be able to continue to collaborate with them. Doing comedy is really challenging. It’s exciting and the improvisational aspect of it sharpens your acting tools.
What’s next for you?
I’m back in the suit. [Laughs.] I’m leaving for Scotland and we’re shooting the third and fourth instalments of the Avengers back to back, which will take me through till the end of the year.
Are you still enjoying playing Black Widow in the Avengers? Oh, yeah, it’s fun. I love my co-stars and it’s always great to get back together. It’s like a family; all of the producers, the film-makers, the cast, and I’ve been with them through my pregnancy and now as a mom. It’s really been interesting to grow with a character. I’ve been playing her since I was 24 and now I’m 32. I’m a different person now and I think so is she. Every time I get the script I’m nervous to open it because I love this character and I care about what happens to her.
How are you finding motherhood?
That’s the greatest adventure of all. I know everybody says it, but I never could have imagined how much you can love someone. It’s crazy. Somebody once described being a mom as your heart kind of growing another chamber. I thought that was really apt. It’s challenging in all the best ways.