Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Directors Love Actors 4: Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson


Collaborations: "Match Point," "Scoop," and "Vicky Christina Barcelona"

Three of the four movies made during Woody's Allen's recent European vacation have featured a prominent American character; in all three instances, that character was played by Scarlett Johansson. The three movies have very different tones and themes -- "Match Point" is a thriller with moral overtones, "Vicky Christina Barcelona" is a romantic travelogue and "Scoop" a goofy supernatural comedy -- but in each film, Johansson's role is roughly the same: the good-looking girl traveling abroad who enters a world (be it the British aristocracy, the Spanish art scene or journalism's homicide beat) for which she's not fully prepared. In the two comedies, her adventures are played for flirty laughs; in the drama, they drive her mad. Ironically, the partnership started almost by accident; Kate Winslet was originally cast in Johansson's role in "Match Point," but dropped out just before shooting started to spend more time with her family. Discussing Johansson's casting with the website Buzzine Allen noted that she was selected initially out of desperation but that he "became totally captivated by her. She was not only beautiful but also bright, amusing, charming and gifted." He's promised in many interviews to try to work with her whenever he's written parts for her, but their affair could be a strictly international one: ScarJo doesn't appear in Woody's next picture, a Manhattan-set comedy called "Whatever Works" starring Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood.

See also: Allen clearly prefers working with actors he knows, particularly female ones: Diane Keaton appeared in five of his pictures in the 1970s and a reunion in 1993 ("Manhattan Murder Mystery") after Allen broke up with his next muse, Mia Farrow, following completion of "Husbands and Wives," the couple's 12th consecutive movie together (or 13th, if you count Allen's contribution to the anthology film, "New York Stories").


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