Scarlett Johansson on ‘Lucy': “I think of myself as an actor for hire and I think of my career as being freeform”

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Though Scarlett Johansson has been kicking butt in The Avengers movies as Black Widow, she has tended to star in dramatic films since her 2003 movie breakthrough Lost in Translation. However, in Lucy Johansson is finally starring as the lead in her first all-out action movie, which is directed by Leon: The Professional director Luc Besson. In conversation with Vulture, Johansson spoke about why she decided to take her first lead role in an action movie, how she portrayed the character’s fluctuating abilities, and where she thinks her career is headed.

Johansson admits that the main reason she decided to do the film was because she felt the character fit in with her dramatic work. She explains, “When I first met Luc, I was doing a Tennessee Williams play that was visceral and raw and this project seemed so abstract. It was challenging in a different way because the character is in this constant state of transition and struggles to hold onto the nuances of herself and her life that make her who she is — that make her human, in her mind. In comparison to the work that I was doing when we met, it seemed like a totally different challenge. It just fit. I didn’t even know how to do it; I just felt I could.”

Lucy is a character who gradually unlocks an increasing amount of her brainpower, which required Johansson to portray Lucy at different levels of her self-awareness. She says, “The goal is to not make it a story about revenge and not have the performance be monotonous or robotic. It very well might be. I’m not sure that I succeeded in making it anything else. [Laughs.] I was aware every moment of what her abilities were. I had a big chart. Okay, I’m at 40 percent. This is what I’m holding on to. This is what I know now. This is what I’m capable of. Okay, now I’m at 70 percent, so this is what I’m challenged by. She’s gaining all this ability and knowledge but she’s becoming almost childlike in some ways. That’s how I saw it.”

When asked if she sees more action roles in her future, Johansson reveals that she doesn’t have a concrete plan about what type of actress she thinks she should be. She points out, “I think of myself as an actor for hire and I think of my career as being freeform. I haven’t properly mapped it out. I like it that way. It gives me more choices. I don’t have any expectations.”

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