In "Don Jon," Johansson plays Barbara, a woman Gordon-Levitt's character Don ranks "a 10." She knows what she wants: an educated man with a good job who can provide for her. Oh, and he also can't watch porn. That's the Golden Rule.
Moviefone Canada spoke with Johansson at the Toronto International Film Festival about porn, what Tony Danza was like on set, and her aspirations to be a director (yep, that's happening!).
Moviefone: Did you like accessing your inner Jersey girl for this movie?
Scarlett Johansson: Yes! I loved this character. She has a lot of conviction and she's guilty of the habit that I'm guilty of: just wanting your partner to fit into this box that you've constructed. [Laughs] It's easier that way -- "Why can't you just reach the potential I see in you? Why can't you be more like me?" It's only through experience that you realize, OK, this compromise and these differences will cause us to grow together.
She's familiar to me in that way, and I just played her with as much conviction as she's got, and I hope that comes across.
Did you come to any conclusions about porn? What do you think couples will talk about when they leave the theatre?
Funnily enough, Joe [Gordon-Levitt] and I never talked about porn. We talked more about relationships, but porn ... I don't care. It is what it is. I guess you can over-consume, like any other addiction. I believe everything in moderation. I certainly don't judge anyone for whatever floats their boat. There are healthy ways to enjoy pornography -- couples, alone, whatever. The larger conversation we were having was really about expectations, and how easily we're able to accept each other's differences, and how men and women objectify one another and how that affects our intimate relationships.
What did you bring to the character?
She hadn't really been flushed out [when I first read the script]. She really needed to be lifted off the page. I didn't want her to be that annoying girlfriend who's prudish, which she very easily could have been. I think because I do sympathize with her ... she has every good intention, but maybe some of them are self-serving, but she's not a bad person. I think if maybe Jon had just talked to her a little bit more at the beginning, she may have been more open. I wanted the audience to be able to see it from her perspective as well.
She just wants to meet the right guy, and have that fantasy, fairy-tale ending that she feels entitled to. She's a good person and she deserves that ideal American family in her mind.
Can you tell me everything about Tony Danza? He absolutely killed in this movie.
[Laughs] He's so funny and he's such a sweet guy. He slipped so easily into that character. I think all of us ... it was so exciting to come on set and interact in those family scene. We're all coming with such a particular motivation to those scenes; each one of us knows exactly what we want, what we like, what we see. We're very much that family. We're opinionated, we're loud...
[Laughs] Yeah, we're swear-y. There's a respect in the family, too. It's very much that patriarchal environment, but at the same time the women are vocal and loud. It's that Italian Catholic Jersey family.
It was like the Manero family dinner table in "Saturday Night Fever."
I think Joe had that in the back of his mind. [Laughs]
Joe is very young for a first-time director. Does he inspire you to do the same? To get behind the camera?
Yes, he did! I'm actually directing a film next summer, an adaptation of a [Truman] Capote novella called "Summer Crossing." It's something I've been developing forever it seems, but for about six years. Joe has been very inspiring to me -- he's very confident and very fair. He's open to ideas and collaboration.
"Summer Crossing" takes place in 1948, and it follows a 17-year-old girl living in New York -- she's kind of a WASPy girl -- and she falls in love with a Jewish parking lot attendant. It's a film about the social divide, and the loss of innocence. It's a bittersweet love story and a valentine to New York.
For now, you can catch Johansson in "Don Jon," opening in theatres on September 27.