Our September Cover Star Scarlett Johansson Talks Men, Friendship And The Ultimate Taboo - Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka
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Our September Cover Star Scarlett Johansson Talks Men, Friendship And The Ultimate Taboo

On the big screen, she is ripping it up in the dark comedy Rough Night, but IRL, the outspoken actress is lending her star- and brain-power to the issues she’s most passionate about.

James White

We’re backstage at the Women in the World Summit in NYC, where she’s just spoken to Arianna Huffington about advocacy, female empowerment and Ivanka Trump. In March, Scarlett impersonated the first daughter on Saturday Night Live in a sketch likening Ivanka’s public silence to a fictional designer perfume. “Complicit,” she whispers in the fake ad, “The fragrance for the woman who could stop all this…but won’t.” People were listening: The next day, Merriam-Webster reported that complicit was the number one search on its site.

Since her appearance at the Women’s March in D.C. this past January, Scarlett, 32, has been surrounding herself with and speaking out for women. Her latest film, the raucous Rough Night, is not only directed and co – written by a woman (Lucia Aniello), but also features Hollywood’s brightest rising female stars, including Kate McKinnon (SNL), Ilana Glazer (Broad City), Jillian Bell (Workaholics) and Zoë Kravitz (Big Little Lies).

The vibes on-set were awesome, says Scarlett—in part because ladies ran much of the show. “It used to be that you’d look out into the crew and it was a sea of men. Now, you see a lot of female grips, women in the camera department, set builders and teams. It’s great.” Read on for Scarlett’s big ideas about her future…and ours.

James White

People are calling Rough Night the female version of The Hangover. Is that fair?

I liked that The Hangover was essentially a story about friendship. Of course, it was
outrageous, but it had a nice sentimental quality, so I don’t [think] it’s a bad thing.

Whose personality surprised you the most in the cast?

I think comedians in general have dark senses of humor. I was like, ‘you guys are twisted motherfuckers,’ all of you. I was almost conservative in comparison. Jillian, she’s so saucy, that girl—the more disgusting and disturbing a movie is, the more she’s like “I live for it.” They all loved The Human Centipede. Zoë too! I was like, you guys are crazy.

So, not exactly your usual group of girls?

I have a lot of friends from different phases of my life. Thank god for my closest friends. your good girlfriends are a mirror for you to really look at yourself—even though sometimes you don’t want to see the ugly side or the red flags. Like, it’s amazing how you can say, “I think that was a healthy relationship.” And they’re like “No [it wasn’t]!” the dudes in Rough Night are the sensitive ones.

What’s going on there?

It’s an exaggeration, but in some ways, it speaks to how gender dynamics are playing out now. Men have embraced a more, not necessarily sensitive side, but—

They’re not afraid to say, “I’m a feminist.”

It’s nice to see that.

Or, go to the Women’s March.

That’s sexy.

Speaking of the March, were you super nervous to take the stage?

I was in that zone that an athlete might get into before you perform or fight, where you’re just really focused. It wasn’t until a day later that I could kind of sit back and absorb what had happened.

James White

Were you afraid that by advocating for Planned Parenthood, you might alienate some fans?

I hope it normalizes the conversation. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be talking about our reproductive rights. They’re something we have to fight for and continue to protect. There’s nothing icky about talking about that stuff. Of course, it’s private and it’s your body, but we should take the stigma away.

A lot of people avoid politics on their social channels. What would you say to them?

Whenever you speak publicly, it’s always a risk, right? Maybe you’ll lose some followers. But, if you have something to say, it can be really impactful. I hope my daughter finds her voice and feels like she can engage anyone in any number of topics. I grew up in an environment that encouraged activism, so I never thought about the effect that it would have on my career at any stage. But I know it’s a luxury, and not everybody has that luxury.

Ivanka Trump has suggested that she prefers to be more quiet about her activism.…

I don’t know what kind of activism happens behind closed doors. It’s passive activism— pass-tivism—that’s a word we can make up for people to use! I’m not asking her to come out and talk about something she doesn’t believe in. She’s employed by the current administration, but I don’t know what position she has—who does? I know it’s complicated. It’s her father. Can you imagine? Maybe she’s afraid she’ll be abandoned. It’s hard to put yourself in somebody’s position like that. But how do you move the needle in one direction or the other? Hopefully, she’ll make a courageous choice and stand up for what she believes in—whatever that might be.

What have you found makes people the most uncomfortable?

When women talk about enjoying sex; it’s almost forbidden. Just buy having a healthy sexual attitude, you are labeled as loose, wild, a slut. you have no morals, and you’re seen as some kind of sexual deviant or someone who can’t be in a monogamous relationship. The minute you talk about enjoying yourself, being curious, that is still taboo.

You’ve said that you haven’t ruled out running for office someday. should other young women do the same?

Yes, I’d love to see that. I meet very driven girls who are part of the process as aides, but I want them front and center. I like the conversations that are happening. A positive of this whole experience is that even people who were maybe not as politically aware, suddenly the switch has been turned on. This time presents a unique opportunity—I hope we use it

James White


This article was originally published as ‘Think Out Loud’ in the September 2017 issue of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka. For more stories on amazing people, grab a copy of our latest magazine.

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