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Scarlett Johansson Age Of Ultron Interview

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When Scarlett Johansson dons Black Widow’s gear for Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” she has one clear goal in mind: keeping true to her character. Johansson says, “The most important aspect of my job as an actor, who’s been carrying this character from ‘Iron Man’ to ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier,’ is to keep consistency with the character’s arc and have the character’s evolution be one that is cohesive. You want to feel like the character is growing as opposed to just staying the same.”


Although Johansson worked with different directors over the course of inhabiting the Natasha Romanoff character, it was her first meeting with director/writer Joss Whedon that allowed her to explore her character’s past. “In my first meeting with Joss, I had the chance to talk about Natasha’s backstory and her sordid past,” recalls Johansson, “and I wanted to make sure that she stayed sort of gray, not really black or white. What’s exciting and compelling about the character is that she’s not Cap; she’s not righteous. She was in S.H.I.E.L.D. because it’s where she belonged, not necessarily that it was the right place to be. Now we find The Avengers in business as usual mode but it’s changing. So it’s my job to make sure that Natasha, through that change, stays true to the Natasha that I started with in ‘The Avengers.’”


Describing the positioning of The Avengers at the start of the movie, Johansson offers, “It really is business as usual in a sense at the beginning of the film. But the world is aware of the universe in a way that they weren’t in ‘The Avengers.’ Of course we’re dealing with situations on a global level. The common man knows the vocabulary of aliens and space travel. Before the battle in New York, The Avengers in general had a stealthy approach and S.H.I.E.L.D. certainly had that as well and now we’re being judged in a different way. Everybody is watching us, so it’s just a different playing field.”


In Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” a new threat to humanity raises its head—the powerful Ultron. Johansson informs, “Ultron’s everyone. He’s everywhere. I guess he would be like big brother in a way—the evil big brother. He’s much greater than The Avengers combined, although it turns out not to be true but it feels like that.”


Johansson feels that the casting of James Spader to play Ultron could not be better. “James has these almost Shakespearean soliloquies at times that are very theatrical,” says Johansson. “In most actors hands they would probably be totally over the top and impossible to juggle or make any sense out of. You really have to own the phrasing and also because this character is really psychotic, you have to be able to own the many faces of Ultron. He’s both the victim at times and he’s the offender. James just has the gravitas as an actor to be able to pull that off.”


Explaining the connection between her Natasha Romanoff character and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, which is explored in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Johansson says,  “They both have sort of a monstrous side to them. They certainly have pasts that they’re not really able to face that are just very painful to admit. In some ways, it is almost as if their job required them both to become inhuman. They’ve been in the game for a long time. Both yearn for a way out and a chance to just be normal Probably more than any of the other characters, they are really at odds with the reality of their everyday life and they recognize that in one another, a sort of kindred spirit.”


Johansson believes that the Marvel films work because “they are really character-driven action films that resonate with the audience not just because the action’s cool but also because the characters are multifaceted and they struggle. They are unlikely heroes and sort of reluctant heroes and the cast of this film reflects Marvel’s desire to have a dramatic truth to them. It’s not just the action that makes these movies so successful. It’s the fact that they are touching and compelling.”


For the talented actress, the exciting part about bringing The Avengers to audiences this time around is that there are opportunities to delve deeper into the backstory of each one of the characters. “Every one of The Avengers has come to the table with a lot of baggage. None of us really chose this job; the job chose us, and that reluctance to wear the Super Hero hat makes for very interesting backstories. We have our histories and we get to explore a little bit of that and I think the audience is going to absolutely love that. It makes the audience even that more invested in our interpersonal relationships and also the future of these characters, so that’s pretty cool.”



Q: What is the goal when you are following the biggest superhero film of all time?


A: The most important aspect of my job as an actor, who’s been carrying this character from “Iron Man” to “The Avengers” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” is to keep consistency with the character’s arc and have the character’s evolution be one that is cohesive. You want to feel like the character is growing as opposed to just staying the same.


I think it’s Joss Whedon’s challenge to one-up himself  and be more concerned with how to surprise the audience in a new and exciting way, whether it’s with the action or with the storyline or even with the tools we’re using. But for me, it’s more about just having consistency with the character that people respond to and can reflect off of.

Q: How is it a challenge to keep a character going over several movies, often dealing with different creative teams?


A: I’ve worked with two different directors and one pair of directors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it’s my job to bring Natasha to set every day and make sure the decisions that we are making in the storyline for her are true to the character.


In my first meeting with Joss, I had the chance to talk about Natasha’s backstory and her sordid past and I wanted to make sure that she stayed sort of gray, not really black or white. What’s exciting and compelling about the character is that she’s not Cap; she’s not righteous. She was in S.H.I.E.L.D. because it’s where she belonged, not necessarily that it was the right place to be. Now we find The Avengers in business as usual mode but it’s changing. So it’s my job to make sure that Natasha, through that change, stays true to the Natasha that I started with in “The Avengers.”

Q: Can we talk about where The Avengers are in the beginning of the film and how Natasha sees their role?


A: It really is business as usual in a sense at the beginning of the film. But the world is aware of the universe in a way that they weren’t in “The Avengers.” Of course we’re dealing with situations on a global level. The common man knows the vocabulary of aliens and space travel. Before the battle in New York, The Avengers in general had a stealthy approach and S.H.I.E.L.D. certainly had that as well and now we’re being judged in a different way. Everybody is watching us, so it’s just a different playing field.

Q: Does Natasha see The Avengers as a surrogate family?


A: I don’t know necessarily that Natasha has any sense of family. I don’t know if she thinks of The Avengers as being her family. I don’t think so. But certainly her relationship with Nick Fury is probably the most familial one. She knows that she belongs with The Avengers or whatever the next phase of S.H.I.E.L.D. is. She understands that her job is where her home is. If she had some sense of family it would be where her heart is and I don’t think there is a place for her heart right now. She doesn’t really have that option.

Q: Can you talk about your relationship with Banner in this film?


A: Mark [Ruffalo] and I said, “Why are these characters so connected to one another?” They both have sort of a monstrous side to them. They certainly have pasts that they’re not really able to face that are just very painful to admit. In some ways, it is almost as if their job required them both to become inhuman. They’ve been in the game for a long time. Both yearn for a way out and a chance to just be normal. Probably more than any of the other characters, they are really at odds with the reality of their everyday life and they recognize that in one another, a sort of kindred spirit. This film explores their connection.

Q: Is it important that Marvel doesn’t just rely on action but also explores the characters?


A: These movies work because they’re really character-driven action films that resonate with the audience not just because the action’s cool but also because the characters are multifaceted and they struggle. They are unlikely heroes and sort of reluctant heroes and the cast of this film reflects Marvel’s desire to have a dramatic truth to them. It’s not just the action that makes these movies so successful. It’s the fact that they are  touching and compelling.

Q: What is this movie saying about the world we’re living in today?


A: Since “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” we’ve started to contemplate the reality of the future of technology or even just the technology that we’re dealing with right now. The idea is that technology in the wrong hands can totally overwhelm humanity in a sense and overtake us. It’s not that this film goes too far down the sci-fi realm but it definitely asks the question of whether or not the human race knows what’s right for it. Do we know how to govern ourselves? Are we capable of continuing to thrive or do we need to be governed by something else? Something that sees a better way or a fairer way or a more sustainable way for us. That’s what we’re looking at in this film and I don’t think it’s that far off. Maybe I’m just like a conspiracy theorist but I think certainly we’re probably unaware of the decisions that are being made for us by greater powers that be.

Q: Can you set up Ultron?


A: Ultron’s everyone. He’s everywhere. I guess he would be like big brother in a way—the evil big brother. He’s everything and everywhere. He’s much greater than The Avengers combined, although it turns out not to be true but it feels like that.

Q: Can you talk about James Spader in the role?


A: I was so thrilled with the casting of James Spader as Ultron. I think it’s so fitting because Ultron is everywhere and everything and he has these almost Shakespearean soliloquies at times that are very theatrical. In most actors hands they would probably be totally over the top and impossible to juggle or make any sense out of. You really have to own the phrasing and also because this character is really psychotic, you have to be able to own the many faces of Ultron. He’s both the victim at times and he’s the offender. James just has the gravitas as an actor to be able to pull that off. I certainly think that his theatrical background is all over this. It definitely has aided him very much in his performance.

Q: Can you introduce Wanda and Pietro? Having another girl join the team must be nice.


A: I feel like my character’s wrapping her head around Wanda and Pietro and wondering what she has to deal with now. Wanda and Pietro are like a wonder team that is going to bring more problems. Natasha is wary of everybody and she’s not exactly a team player. Her world exploded when S.H.I.E.L.D. fell apart and I think now perhaps she’s seeing Wanda and Pietro as two more that she has to deal with and whip into shape.

Q: What can audiences expect from the film?


A: The really exciting part, for me, in bringing The Avengers to audiences this time around is that there are opportunities to delve deeper into the backstory of each one of these characters. Every one of The Avengers has come to the table with a lot of baggage. None of us really chose this job; the job chose us, and the reluctance to wear the Super Hero hat makes for very interesting backstories. We have our histories and we get to explore a little bit of that and I think the audience is going to absolutely love that. It makes the audience even that more invested in our interpersonal relationships and also the future of these characters, so that’s pretty cool.



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The Movie Bit: Scarlett Johansson Age Of Ultron Interview
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