|Jul 8, 2006, 05:27 PM||#1|
1,988 flights since Dec 2002
Location: Planet Earth
The Island - Interviews
Scarlett Johansson Interview
20-year-old Scarlett Johansson ("Ghost World", "Lost in Translation") is making a leap from the grunge, indie scene to the world of dazzle and special effects in "The Island," the latest picture from director Michael Bay ("Armageddon," "The Rock"). She joins Ewan McGregor ("Star Wars" trilogy) in this action sci-fi thriller about two people who suddenly discover a shocking truth to their existence: they, along with an entire society of humans, are actually clones bred from other people. The clones have been raised to believe that their isolation is a result of a worldwide castastrophe that has left the entire human population dead. To them, only one fortress of happiness exists on the planet and that is a so-called "island." Of course, in actuality, they're being raised and fed like animals by a scientist named Merrick (Sean Bean), who uses the clones as spare body parts in case their counterparts are ever in need of them.
Scarlett spoke to press in both Los Angeles and New York City recently and below is what she had to say to myself and Sean Chavel.
Q: Scarlett, what was it about the script that got you excited?
SCARLETT: When I got the script, it was a really fantastic script. It was exciting, adventurous and fun. When you read that youíre going to slide down a drain pipe, you donít think thatís actually ever going to happen until 7:30 in the morning, Michael Bay [says to you], ďOh, youíre just going to slide down the drain and weíre going to do it again from another angle!Ē So it was a lot of work.
As far as playing a character that was kind of innocent, it was delightful and fun. As an actor, mentally, you get in a state of everything being so new. Children, dogs, people, cars, feeling love Ė everythingís new, including physical intimacy. So it manifests itself physically. You get excited and you feel excited. Ewan and I had a real fun time with that. It was really sweet.
Q: Did you know anything about clones and the subject matter of the film before joining the picture?
SCARLETT: Iíve done cell research if thatís what youíre asking. There are a lot of wonderful possibilities such as eliminate diseases like Alzheimerís or Polio that would be incredible. On the same note, people might detract that youíre playing with fate, or that idea of creating a master race, or choosing your childís eye color. But the positives outweigh the negative.
Q: Michael likes to shoot a lot of action and so how was he to work on his schedule?
SCARLETT: Itís hard. Itís really hard. Some days we had were really long. In that case, I would look at Michael and say, ďI canít do it again! I canít.Ē But he was really good about it and really sensitive. He knew what we were going through. Heíd go, ĎLook, I know youíre tired. You just gotta stick with me. A couple more hours, I promise.í That means a lot that someone like him is watching your back and is there to motivate you. Heíll come to your trailer to talk to you. Heís very good about that.
But I was so sore. The first day I came home from work, I was so tired I thought I was going to die. I thought I had atrophy.
Q: You have a reputation of being a hard worker...
SCARLETT: Making a movie is hard. Everybody on the set is always working, you have to go to work. I could have the flu, and you have to go to work. Time is money in the movie business. The Island was very physically exhausting. Running around all the time, for 14 hours a day. Get off work and hit the gym for two hours. After a couple of months, you get into this mode where you just do it.
Q: Do you have to change your acting game to do something like this?
SCARLETT: What do actors do? They put themselves in unrealistic situations and make those situations seem real. Hopefully weíre not trying too hard. Acting as if it were a real situationÖ I donít think that changes whether youíre doing a photo shoot where you evoke a certain feeling for a photograph, or for a scene in a movie.
Q: But is it more difficult to do a movie like this?
SCARLETT: It wasnít difficult, it was very easy. I think every film Iíve done is very different, with different characters and kinds of directors. For me, I love genre films if they do the trick. Youíre removed from your life for a couple of hours and I never found one that I thought was good enough. You figure if youíre going to do an action film, or a thriller, or science fiction film, it better be the right one because you canít do tons of them. Of course, when I heard Michael was attached, I thought it would be very interesting for me because he does it so well. Heís one of the two or three people who can do it well, and do it right.
Q: What about shooting with blue screen technology?
SCARLETT: Itís exhausting. Itís tough, especially if youíre imagining youíre trying to escape to save your own life but you can hear the grip chewing his sandwich. Itís really hard.
Q: So if you had a clone, what would you make her do?
SCARLETT: If I had a clone, Iíd never do the press junkets. [Laughs] But Iím definitely going to take a nice, long much needed rest after this one. I promised myself that. The problem is that if I start to relax for a while, I get very anxious and then I have to do something. Itís hard for me to take vacations.
Q: Did you ever foresee this level of attention when you were a young actress?
SCARLETT: Itís very surprising. I never had any expectations. I only hoped and thought when I was younger that I would be a working actor forever. I donít think you can foresee something like this, meaning the hype or success, or the fact that Michael can see me outside of a certain category Ė the young, ingťnue thatís done more alternative films. The fact that he could see me in this was very surprising and very nice. As an actor, you see yourself in all different kinds of roles. Itís easy to see yourself playing them, but thatís not always that way, looking at it at an industry point of view.
Q: Do you read what they say about you in the tabloids?
SCARLETT: I really donít patronize tabloid magazines so if I ever read something thatís written about me, itís either hearsay or maybe somebody faxed me an article or something. I donít think it does any good. I never respond to anything, true or untrue. I let it take its own course.
Q: The clones in the movie have this idea of "The Island" of being a place of bliss and ultimate personal satisfaction. With all that you've accomplished, do you feel like you're on your way to that level, and at what point will you know you've reached your own "island"?
SCARLET: I hope to constantly be searching for ultimate satisfaction until the day I die otherwise, gosh, how boring? Itís good to feel satisfied but I never want to stop looking and never want to stop being curious about things. I think you get to a point in your life and you have a family and youíre comfortable with that, but I never want to be like that. Not too comfortable anyway. Of course, Iím saying that right now as a 20-year-old girl. Ask me in 35 years. Thatís my perspective on it now.
|Jul 8, 2006, 05:28 PM||#2|
1,988 flights since Dec 2002
Location: Planet Earth
Re: The Island - Interviews
Michael Bay Interview
Director Michael Bay has a long history with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, ranging from "Armageddon," to "The Rock," to the "Bad Boys" movies. But this time, Bay does his first film with Dreamworks SKG with "The Island" starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. He brings his action flare to this story about a futuristic society where the rich and famous have dreams about living forever, and to achieve that, they donate their DNA and cells to be raised as clones in a secluded and isolated world. Two clones discover the truth and it's a race to expose the truth before it becomes too late for their friends.
Below, Michael talked in NYC and LA about his latest feature.
Q: People comment how hard a worker you are, and how hard you push your cast and crew. Are you really that tough?
MICHAEL: Iím just not one of those directors that sits in my trailer. I donít usually use my trailer. Thatís how I get my creative energy. Iím involved with setting every shot; how we light it, how weíre going to block the extras. Thatís where I get my creative juices. I arrive to the set 45 [minutes] to an hour after the crew gets there because I donít want to see the crew get the breakfast burritos. When I get there, I want to shoot. Iím like that throughout the whole day and I like to shoot fast because [with] fast, it gives me more time to improv with actors.
Q: So you like to keep your actors constantly working and energized?
MICHAEL: Thatís always my MO is to keep them energized. Especially when youíre doing action stuff, itís the intensity that you have to keep thereÖ I donít do 16 hours day, I do 12 hour days because I think itís counter-productive to keep them for long days. It was harder on Scarlett because she has to get their early to do make-up and what not. Directors donít have to do that.
Working with them, they are consummate actors. I was really impressed working with Scarlett. Sheís twenty [years old], yet sheís got some sophistication about her. Every actor does have a different process. Scarlettís process is, ĎNo, I canít say that. I canít canít!í And Iím like, ĎTry it. Trust me, just try it.í So she does a take and nails it. And I say that we should do a different take. And sheís like, ĎNo, I liked that one. Letís keep that one!í
Q: Was it easy for Ewan to do a lot of blue screen because of his experience with "Star Wars"?
MICHAEL: The first time I met with Ewan was in New York. The first question he asked was, ďAre you going to do a lot of blue screen?Ē I said, ďNo.Ē I like to shoot a lot of stuff real and live. We shot two days of blue screen but I must say, Ewan is a very good blue screen actor. Acting with blue screen is a tough thing. Itís exhausting. Thereís nothing to draw from. Itís tough.
Q: We heard that you had to convince Scarlett to keep her clothes on for the love scene...
MICHAEL: Scarlett is one of a kind. The famous director is called to the actorís trailer right before the love scene, all rightÖ How many times did I have to go say, ĎCome out, you look beautiful. Come onÖí And I knock on the trailer. And sheís like, ĎIím not wearing this bra, this cheap-ass black bra. Iím going naked!í [LAUGHS] And I tell Scarlett that she canít go naked. This picture is PG-13. Classic story.
Q: How was it like doing your first picture for Dreamworks and what has that experience been like?
MICHAEL: I walked into a studio meeting and I met with 5 people: Steven Spielberg, Walter Parkes, Laurie [MacDonald], Adam Goodman and Mark Haymes. I walked out of there and realized, ďOh my God, thatís a studio.Ē They actually make movies. So many studio heads donít know how to make movies. Itís a more intimate studio and there are very supportive of making the script right. They gave me a lot of free range. I really enjoyed it.
Q: Will you work with Jerry again?
MICHAEL: Iím very good friends with Jerry and I miss Jerry. Very funny story though. When Steven called me to direct this script, I said, ďO.K.Ē Rumor got around town. Jerry called me up from the Superbowl and it was small talk for about 15 minutes. Iím ready to hang up and he goes, ďI understand you committed to something?Ē I go, ďNo, no, well Iím thinking about it.Ē He goes, ďWell I just wanted to let you know: we passed on the script.Ē Apparently he ripped his office apart the next Monday. But Iím going to go back to Jerry.
Q: This film brings up interesting questions about cloning, stem cell research, abortion, etc... What do you want people to take away from the movie?
MICHAEL: What I really intended [is] when the audience leaves, I want people to think, ďWould you, if you could, have a clone?Ē If there were a facility like this, Iím sure thereís enough selfish people in the world that would want to do this. Itís a universal thing, that theme in the movie, that we want to live longer. How far would you go? Itís not to just comment on stem cell research. Itís amazing how they feel they can cure so many diseases. This is just taking cloning in a sci-fi way to a ninth degree. But itís to really just open discussion.
Q: You've produced a couple of classic horror remakes. Are you going to remake "The Birds"?
MICHAEL: I donít even want to talk about "The Birds." Thatís so far down the line, I have misgivings in even trying to do that. You know what Iím saying? Remake thatÖ I donít even want to talk about that. Just because I said that doesnít mean itís going to happen. Know what Iím saying?
Q: Is there a horror film that shouldn't be touched?
MICHAEL: Donít ever touch "The Shining."
Q: They actually did a television remake of it...
MICHAEL: Oh, right. Too bad. See, itís, um, "Texas" was made in order to start a company. I wanted to start a company that would help younger directors. Thatís what I wanted to do. Itís a title thatís in our pop culture. Thereís a whole generation of kids that havenít seen the original. It wasnít about to see if we could make one better, it was about making one that could be seen by the new generation.
Q: What about the "The Shining" do you like so much?
MICHAEL: I love that movie. I love Kubrick. The scariest shot that Iíve ever seen in the movies is that one with the two twins down the hall.
Q: What has been your worst moment in Hollywood or maybe even your most fulfilling?
MICHAEL: Hmm, I donít know my worst. Directing is one of those all-consuming jobs. I have to balance real life and too much work. Directing sucks the life out of you. And thereís so much pressure in this town to succeed. You have to look at life and ask, ĎDoes it really matter. Does it matter if the box office figures are not as great as someone hoped.í But there are more important things in life. As for high points, a kid came up to me at Starbucks and told me he saw "The Rock" and said it changed his life. It made him happyÖ something about the Nic Cage and Sean Connery relationship. It pulled him out of a depressive state, he said. He shook my hand and told me again how much the movie meant to him.