Scarlett Johansson Talks About "Lost in Translation"

Lost in Translation star Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson stars in "Lost in Translation.". Focus Features

"Lost in Translation" has received rave reviews on the festival circuit and its young star, Scarlett Johansson, is one of the central reasons the film's being so well-received.

In Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation," Scarlett stars as Charlotte, a photographer's wife who tags along with her husband (Giovanni Ribisi) on assignment in Japan. Unable to sleep and left alone in a foreign country while her husband's working, Charlotte strikes up a friendship with fellow insomniac Bob Harris (Bill Murray), a big American movie star in Japan filming a commercial. Lonely and disconnected, the two find support and strength in their surprising friendship.


Did you have a good time filming in Japan?
It was very fun. We were working so much that I didn't have much time to do much other than on my day off. I slept and went shopping and ate Japanese food, but I really wished that I had more time to really experience it because I hear that if you know a lot of people that are there, you can really uncover a lot of great things that are hidden in the hustle and bustle.

Did you do any karaoke while you were there?
We did karaoke. [Besides] the karaoke that we shot, we did karaoke the day before we started shooting.

What do you sing when you do karaoke?
Once I start getting rolling, I'm all over [the place].

Any Britney Spears songs?
Britney Spears I just like to make fun of. Not actually her, but her body of work. Actually, I sound great singing Britney Spears, but I do a great Cher impression.

Director Sofia Coppola said you were a good sport about being in your underwear during filming. How did she make you feel comfortable?
I'd been eating so much Udon, I just thought, “Oh my God, I'm so not going to look decent in these underwear.” I really didn't want to wear those underwear because I was so bloated from eating all of this Udon all of the time. She was like, “Well you know, it'd be nice if you could wear these underwear,” because that was what was written in the script. And she was like, “But I understand if you're uncomfortable.” She said, “Why don't I try these on for you? You could see how they look. Just see how they look and if you don't want to do it, then of course, you don't have to.” I was like, “Alright, that's a pretty good deal.” And of course, Sofia is lanky and skinny, [with a] very sort of elegant body and so she looked fantastic in the underwear. That's how she got me to wear them.

Were you surprised you were asked to play a role five years older than your real age? Was that a special challenge?
I don't know. I guess I didn't really think about it that much. The only time that I was really aware of it was when I was putting on my wedding band. Other than that, you think about it and it's like, “Five years here, five years there. No big deal.” The only prep that I really did was with Giovanni [Ribisi]. We did two days of rehearsal just so that you can get a feel of some kind of marriage between us, so that wew weren't just meeting for the first time and going, “Lets get into bed now,” and that kind of thing. [To also capture] that sort of dynamic that comes with marriage where you love the person and at that time, you're in different places.

Page 2: Working with Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray

What did you learn from working with Sofia Coppola?

Working with Sofia, watching her take this idea and turn it into something that we were making not that long after [she came up with the idea] was inspiring. You don't have to run the circuit for five or seven years before you get your film done. If you're passionate and with the right strings to pull… Fortunately I'm in that position where hopefully it won't be quite so hard. Whereas coming right out of college, coming out of some screenwriting program and trying to get your screenplay made is a totally different experience. So, that's very inspiring.

How was it to work with Bill Murray?
I've always been a huge fan of Bill’s and “Groundhog Day” is one my most favorite movies ever. When I saw him... I don't really get star struck. The only time that I've been star struck, and I could count them on one hand: Patrick Swayze, Bill Clinton and I think a few others. But seeing Bill was like one of those experiences. It was like seeing Bill Clinton. It was like, "Whoa, there he is. It looks like him, it sounds like him, and it looks like the way he moves." It was funny because he's someone I've been watching for so long. It was even different than seeing someone like, I don't know, Meryl Streep who I've also been watching forever, because I associate him so much with the characters he plays. With him it's like, "Oh, it's Bob from 'What About Bob.' It's Phil from 'Groundhog Day,'" or whatever, and it was great. It was a lot of fun. He's very serious as an actor, like most comedians are, and he was very giving on camera and off.

While shooting this movie, did you have a “Lost in Translation” moment?
Yes. Normally, I don't come with an assistant or anything, but it was just impossible. You need to have one. It's a necessity over there because I was really surprised, but a lot of people don't speak much English. Either their English was like, “Wow, you speak amazing English,” or it's like very little. There wasn't really an in-between. So, when I was needing things at a pharmacy, or practical things, I needed to have the translator. Otherwise, it was a lot of hand movements. “I'm looking for a small, smaller,” and you're gesturing with your hands. It's international.

Interview with Writer/Director Sofia Coppola

Interview with Bill Murray from "Lost in Translation"