Scarlett Johansson Reveals Why She’d Rather Her Movies ‘Fail’ Than Be ‘Tepid’

Actor Scarlett Johansson has a wide variety of movies across several genres. However, they weren’t all winners with critics and audiences, among studio features and more minor independent features. Johansson once explained why she would rather her performances in movies critically fail than for them to be “tepid.”

Scarlett Johansson experienced ‘cheering’ and ‘booing’ at the ‘Under the Skin’ premiere

One of Johansson’s more artistic movies, Under the Skin, had its European premiere at the Venice Film Festival. However, The Guardian reported that the audience reception was met with “an even split of cheering and boos.” Their 2014 interview with Johansson revealed how the actor handled that at the moment.

“It was very strange,” Johansson said. “It was the first time I had seen the film with an audience and the first time I saw the film finished. And I was on this huge mezzanine, so I felt super-exposed. Then at the end, when the lights came up … there was this sound of people cheering and booing at the same time, but with equal gusto. I didn’t know how to react to it. I think I was just … I wouldn’t say disturbed, but I was sort of shocked.”

Johansson continued: “I looked over at [writer/director] Jonathan [Glazer], and he was filled with glee. Absolutely thrilled. We left the theatre, and I was like, ‘That was so strange,’ and Jonathan was like, ‘That was the best reaction! That was the most amazing sound I’ve ever heard in my life.’”

Scarlett Johansson prefers her movies to ‘fail’ than to be ‘tepid’

The Guardian noted that the Under the Skin reviews were so extreme on both sides of the aisle. However, Johansson pointed out that she would prefer her movies to have these “extreme” reactions rather than “tepid” ones.

“I would way rather not have middle ground,” Johansson said about her movies. “I would way rather fail in someone’s eyes than be that sort of tepid. That’s the worst.”

The premiere reminded Johansson of her own experiences seeing movies that she had extreme reactions to.

“I remember going to see Eyes Wide Shut, and I saw it like three times in the theatre, and the first time I saw it, I hated it,” Johansson recalled. “I had a visceral reaction to it I hated it so much. And then I was like, I have to see that movie again, I hated it so much. And then I loved it. I think in some ways, I hated the emotional experience, it’s like a visceral reaction. There’s passion behind it. I can’t ever totally fault a film that I absolutely hate.”

The actor experienced both sides of the coin

Johansson had her first experience starring in movies with 1994’s North. However, she would ultimately become one of the biggest actors in Hollywood. Johansson would go on to play Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and take on her Oscar-nominated role in Marriage Story. Her work in titles such as Her and Jojo Rabbit was widely celebrated.

However, Johansson also starred in movies that earned harsh criticisms, such as The Spirit and The Black Dahlia. Meanwhile, some audiences felt “middle-of-the-road” with Lucy and We Bought a Zoo. It’s clear that Johansson simply wants to create movies that create conversation and leave an impact, even if audiences feel like booing at the screen once the end credits begin.

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