Wes Anderson is a filmmaker renowned for his rigor when it comes to displaying his ultra-specific aesthetic vision on screen. But Scarlett Johansson tells Yahoo Entertainment the director was more than a little muted when it came time to stage her brief nude scene in Anderson’s latest production, city of asteroids.
“Wes is probably the worst person to talk to about something like this,” the actress laughs. “He is so uncomfortable with this subject.”
Johansson says she felt no embarrassment about filming one of her rare nude scenes — other than trying to get specific instructions from the director behind the camera, of course. “I give free rein to your imagination [how that went]she jokes. “There was a lot of throat clearing and [Wes] sort of hide his face.”
Watch our interview with Scarlett Johansson and Jason Schwartzman on YouTube
Because it’s a Wes Anderson joint, Johansson’s telltale moment isn’t here to be free; instead, it is part of city of asteroidsthe broader meta-commentary on role-playing and artistic collaboration. The film takes place in two interlocking realities: one is the colorful desert landscape of city of asteroidsa recreation of a play that was never staged, while the second is a black and white recreation of 1950s New York, where a troupe of actors – inspired by the legendary Actors Studio – aid the playwright to realize his vision.
Johansson has the dual role of one of the cast members in the New York sequences and movie star Midge Campbell in the world of city of asteroids. She and her daughter, Dinah (Grace Edwards) are among many families who flock to the titular desert city for the Junior Stargazer convention, celebrating the best and brightest of the next generation of space experts. It is there that they meet former war photographer and recent widower, Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman) and his son, Woodrow (Jake Ryan), and romantic feelings blossom between the two single adults, as well as between their youngest offspring. As their relationship develops, Midge casually mentions to Augie that she has a nude scene in her performance repertoire…then just as casually shows it to her.
Because the city of asteroids servings of city of asteroids are, ultimately, a fantastic take on ’50s Americana, Anderson fills these frames with era-specific pop culture allusions, from Chuck Jones’ classic Road Runner shorts to The day the earth stood still. And Midge herself appears to be a tribute to Judy Garland circa 1954 A star is born – certainly in terms of hairstyle. Asked about Garland’s connection, Johansson says she was inspired by another celebrity from Hollywood’s Golden Age…the one who asked for the moon, not the stars.
“I’m a huge Judy Garland fan, but I don’t know if Midge has the same fragility,” says Johansson. “I thought of her as sort of a Bette Davis-type actor. She’s mid-career, she’s very into herself…she’s self-aware like you want a movie star to be…She deserved that spot, she’s confident in that, and that kind of seemed like Bette Davis of a type of person.”
Schwartzman’s Augie, meanwhile, cuts more of an Eli Wallach figure between the thick beard and the desert landscapes. And the actor confirms that a film by Wallach – 1961 The misfits, which also starred Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe – was a priority for himself and for the director. “The misfits was a movie that Wes was referring to,” Schwartzman says. ” He gave me [a book] about the making of the movie….and it’s really interesting how much has changed in this industry and how much hasn’t changed… And I love Eli Wallach in this movie – he is wild.”
Schwartzman has been a regular cast member in Anderson’s acting company since 1998 Rushmorebut city of asteroids marks a first in his quarter-century collaboration with the director: it is the first time he has played a father. “I was thrilled to do this,” he says, noting that the actor who will soon be playing his role on screen is the same age he was when he made it. Rushmore. “But I really didn’t think about it too much – I was really trying to keep my kids in line!”
As city of asteroids unfolds, the walls between the two realities occasionally crumble, with characters from the black and white world bleeding into the colorful cinematic confection and vice versa. And there’s a gripping moment that plays out in both realms – the arrival of an alien (played by Jeff Goldblum) whose appearance inspires an intense moment of community among the entire cast. These twin encounters provide an intense moment of catharsis for cast and audience alike, a moment similar to the kind of “ecstatic truth” that acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog talks about.
It’s a feeling Johansson says he’s only felt a few times before. city of asteroids. “When Liev Schreiber and I made A view from the bridge on Broadway together, there were nights that were fiery,” she recalls. “You really hate yourself! Not personally, but it happens where you’re so lost that you have these deep, visceral moments with another person that leave you energized. It’s so exciting.”
For his part, Schwartzman calls these scenes a “double meta experience” that transported him outside of his own body and brain. “I couldn’t help but say, ‘That’s remarkable,'” he says. “Saying those lines and watching everyone react to the alien made you feel like this is what they would look like if they saw something they had never seen before. of this moment.”
“I was carrying [the alien suit] home,” jokes Schwartzman. “I came out with this in plain sight… It’s 8,000 sizes too big!
city of asteroids playing in theaters now