Scarlett Johansson may be a bombshell, but the actress recently told us she jumped at the chance to play the down-to-earth tomboy Kelly in We Bought a Zoo. Scarlett stars opposite Matt Damon in the new family drama, and during our chat at the press day for the movie in NYC, the actress hinted that she might be more similar to her latest character than to the Hollywood image many people may have of her. We also talked to Scarlett about working with some awe-inspiring wild animals on the project and what her leading man was really like. Check out our interview and catch We Bought a Zoo when it hits theaters this weekend!View Transcript »
the lion gets up on this rocket and he's just like, vroomph. Collectively, the entire crew was just like, ahhhh. In my actual life, I'm not particularly glamorous. Tell me a little bit about preparing for this role. Your character is the head zoo keeper. She knows everything there is to know about these animals. What kind of homework did you do? I observed at a facility that trains trainers. OK. They have hundreds of different species and everybody's there, learning how to handle these animals and working with them, so subsequently they're feeding them and taking care of them and the animals are all living there and everything and, it's the amount of work that goes into it is just absolutely mind-blowing. It's nonstop. The feeding times are all the way from the crack of dawn till the crack of dawn. Which of the animals that you actually worked with on the film were sort of the most awe inspiring when you came face to face? Probably the lion that we worked I think his name actually may have been Leo. Interesting. I can't remember. Maybe I'm just making that up. He was unbelievable. I remember one time he came out and, you know, they needed him to like kind of be on a specific mark or whatever. Right. You know, he's a lion so it was a bit of a challenge, and his handlers are trying to get his attention in every kind of way, making noises and whatever way they know how and then finally I'm like, I see, you know the handlers and their, they give me the cutest somebody behind us and back there is a woman on a horse and one of the handlers on a horse, and she's leading a zebra around like through this foliage, right, to try to, I don't know, like "What are they doing with that zebra?" The lion gets up on this rock and he's just like, hmmf. He's was like ready to go. He was just cued right in, and everybody like collectively, the entire crew was just like, "Ohh," You know, and I was like, that is terrifying. Like, yeah. His eyeballs just became like two little pinpricks, and it was just like, wow, he is king. Right, that his true nature. Yeah that is his true. Yeah, meanwhile, you know, right before he was just kinda like "Eh, I don't really wanna be here." Sure. I kinda wanna get on that moment, he was just instantly in it and it was terrifying. Beyond the amazing animals, you work with some amazing actors in this movie, including Matt? I actually never met Matt before, so this was my first time working with him, and we did a bunch of, you know, work together it's like on in a session. What did you take away from your experience working with him? He has that kind of open mindedness. I'm sure he'll be a fantastic director with that same quality. He just has a kind of a warm and a trusting nature about him. Yeah. It's something that is to have in a scene partner, just knowing that somebody's always going to catch you. I don't know, it feels very safe that way. Was playing Kelly a little bit of a different or new challenge for you because she a little bit unlike, I think, what most people think of Scarlett Johansson as being like, you know what I mean? She's kind of rough around the edges, very much a tomboy. Yeah, and a lot of characteristics are characteristics that I bring to the character. In my actual life, I'm not particularly, but I am always saying, don't live a very big, grand lifestyle. One of the things that attracted me to this project was the fact that I was playing somebody who wasn't a bridesmaid, never a bride, or the other woman or whatever, looking for a dress to wear to a date, none of that. I'm playing someone who's very practical and grounded, and it was nice to be able to stand in the booth every day and just look at that dude, be like, "Yeah, I own this", like I have a certain kind of quiet dignity.