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Pattaya Daily News

05 September 2006 :: 16:09:55 pm 32459

cool head and the hottest smolders in Hollywood

Scarlett Johansson really does look like a Barbara Stanwyck or a Veronica Lake sprung back to life. Geoffrey Macnab falls under her spell.
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Film critics lie panting at her feet, worthies shower her with awards and audiences love her. At the age of 21, Scarlett Johansson has confirmed her status as Hollywood’s most dazzling star by evoking the languorous era of Marilyn Monroe and Veronica Lake in her new film The Black Dahlia.

What’s the secret of her allure? “Always wash your face before you go to bed,” she declares.

“It’s like I stepped out of the womb and said, ‘I will perform’,” Johannson told one interviewer. But since her childhood it has been her mother Melanie, a Bronx-born film producer who named her daughter after Vivien Leigh’s character in Gone With the Wind, who has guided her each step of the way.

Johansson characterized her mother’s forceful negotiating technique as “greasing the squeaky wheel”. Since she was eight, she recalled, “we’ve utilized every resource we’ve had to try to think of ways to get things done”. By which she meant more than 20 films and a shed load of honors.

Peter Webber, the director of Girl With a Pearl Earring, for which Johansson won a Golden Globe nomination in 2003, confessed that while the star’s mother was extremely helpful, “she can be tough if things aren’t happening the way she needs them to be”. Mother and daughter, it seems, work as a team.

Years of discipline and a relentless work ethic belie Johansson’s seemingly effortless performance in The Black Dahlia, which sent the critics into raptures at the Venice film festival last week. She held the Press enthralled as she sat alongside director Brian De Palma and her fellow actors during the morning Press conference for The Black Dahlia.

The story was inspired by a notorious unsolved murder in Los Angeles nearly 60 years ago, when Elizabeth “Betty” Short, a 22-year-old B-movie actress nicknamed the Black Dahlia because of the flowers she wore in her hair, was mutilated in a parking lot. Brian De Palma’s film was adapted from the original novel by James Ellroy, who evidently hoped that it would exorcise the demons of his own mother’s strangulation and rape in 1958.

Johansson plays Kay Lake, a classy blonde who becomes the obsession of two cops, played by Aaron Eckhart and Josh Hartnett (Johansson’s boyfriend in real life), both investigating Short’s murder.

Her performance is so sexy that one critic dared to complain that it could distract from the film. This aspect also bothered the director Woody Allen, who made Johansson his muse in Match Point and Scoop. He recently called her “sexually overwhelming”, adding: “It’s hard to be around a beautiful young woman who is wittier than you are.”
Film-makers and critics adore her.

When a journalist had the temerity to ask her about this sexy image last week, her reply delighted the assembled hacks. “I don’t think about those things,” she began coyly. “Of course, it’s nice to be considered sexy as a young woman in my prime.”

Lord Lloyd-Webber had his eye on Johannson, hoping she would bring a sensuous quality to Maria in his stage musical The Sound of Music, and cited her rejection as a pretext for launching an X Factor-style television series to find a replacement. Johansson’s team took a dim view of his explanation. “Negotiations over the show took place well over a year ago,” Johansson’s PR intoned. “Why is Scarlett’s name being brought into the media mix now, so far after the fact, when Mr Webber is trying to promote his reality show?” But then, everyone wants a piece of Johannson. She was the face of the rock singer Bono’s charitable brand Red, appeared in a music video for Bob Dylan and endorsed the Calvin Klein perfume Eternity Moment, as well as becoming spokeswoman for L’Oréal.

Although often compared to Monroe, she is a closer match to Lauren Bacall, not least for her husky voice and strong opinions. She campaigned for John Kerry, the Democrat candidate in the 2004 US presidential election, and has taken part in anti-poverty projects.

Nonetheless, she has acknowledged that she relished her role in The Black Dahlia, as she got to wear the short-sleeved sweaters and pearls of a 1940s femme fatale. “How can you not feel a sexy dish in that?”

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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