I've been very fortunate to interview quite a few impressive celebs in the course of my career, people like Al Pacino, Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Kathleen Turner, Christopher Walken, Jon Bon Jovi, Alan Arkin, Woody Allen, Morgan Freeman, Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg, Aretha, Colin Farrel, Kristin Chenoweth, Robert Downey, Jr., and so many more. But nothing prepared me for the interview I had with Scarlett Johansson, or ScarJo, as she asked me to call her (kidding) before she accepted the prestigious Renaissance Award from the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on June 30.
We reporters were stacked up like cordwood on the Red Carpet waiting to talk to this award-winning star who, only moments before, had been named the highest grossing movie actress in history with ticket sales amounting to over $3.3 billion!!!
When she turned the corner (see this exciting moment here), there was a collective gasp from the select number of guests who were allowed in The Salon of the Ritz-Carlton before the dinner and program began in the Grand Ballroom. I spoke to film critic Richard Roeper and he called ScarJo a "throwback to an old-time movie star" and that she definitely has that IT quality. I couldn't agree more. As a matter of fact, when she stepped in front of me, I completely forgot all my questions (momentarily). She was breathtakingly beautiful in her pale blue Oscar de la Renta cocktail dress, even better looking in person if this is even possible.
She told me she and Woody Allen were great friends (she's done 3 of his movies so far) and that she would do his "craft service" if he asked her too. (That's food service for us lay people). She added, "I wouldn't exactly call Woody an actor's director, but he gets what he wants. He's relentless and won't stop until he gets it right." She recalled a scene she was doing with him (Woody was both acting and directing at the time) and after she delivered her line, he asked her, "Are you really going to say it that way?" She continued, "It was a dream call you get as an actress and I'm open and waiting for a job offer at any given moment." She ended with, "My job blows my mind all the time."
She also said she loved Chicago. (she worked here at age 11 doing "Home Alone 3"), a movie she didn't seem too proud of since she was hoping it wouldn't be included in the film clip retrospective that was going to be shown during her 45 minute Q & A with Roeper, who was fabulous, btw. She said she loved Chicago's "house music scene, its architecture, art scene and people." Awwwwww......Who knew she loved house music? (See this clip here!) But then again, she is an accomplished singer as well as an award-winning actress (she's won a Tony, 4 Golden Globe nominations and a BAFTA, to name a few, so I guess it's not surprising she loves house music too.
During the conversation, she thanked the Film Center for the honor and remarked that the wonderful work the Film Center does "might only be possible in a place like Chicago" and that she wished there was something like it in New York, where she lives with her 2 year-old daughter Rose and French hubby Romain Dauriac.
During the Q & A, she also revealed her favorite film role so far, playing Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow. (see this clip here). She said, "It's a very enigmatic character that has an amazing origin story and it's not bad company to be playing opposite those boys (Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans) and girls now too!"
If you want to read/see more about this exciting night for ScarJo and the Gene Siskel Film Center, check out my Candid Candace column in the Chicago Tribune here!
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Filed under: art/entertainment
Tags: Celebrity interview, Eda Davidman, Gene Siskel Film Center, Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Mila Samokhina, Nicolle Briscoe, Renaissance Award, Richard Roeper, Ritz-Carlton Chicago, Roopa Weber, ScarJo, Scarlett Johansson, Woody Allen