The new issue of Dazed gets a redesign to coincide with it moving from a monthly to bi-monthly where it’s now published six times a year. Actress Scarlett Johansson is the spring 2014 cover girl, posing for the fashion photographer Benjamin Alexander Huseby.
Exploring the City of Light after dark with the most talked-about actress in the world
Scarlett Johansson is quoting Baudrillard at me in a tiny Parisian toilet. “Smile and others will smile back,” she begins in her deep Nuu Yawk timbre. “Smile to show how transparent, how candid you are. Smile if you have nothing to say. Most of all, do not hide the fact you have nothing to say nor your total indifference to others. Let this emptiness, this profound indifference shine out spontaneously in your smile.” Johansson pauses and looks up, her green eyes glimmering behind an oversized pair of black-rimmed reading glasses. “Was that okay?” The actress doesn’t typically introduce herself to journalists via private cubicle recitals of deceased poststructuralists, but it’s the quietest place she could find to record her narration for Benjamin Alexander Huseby’s cover film. If water-closet acoustics are good enough for Jim Morrison and John Lennon, they’re good enough for Ms Johansson. A lifetime of improvising on the clock doesn’t come without learning a few neat tricks, it seems.
An hour ago, the world’s most beguiling movie star was on more familiar ground, smouldering deep into a camera lens. With her all-black outfit, slicked-back hair and lips daubed in killer red, a bystander could be forgiven for thinking she was starring in a remake of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” video. When that song took over MTV in 1986, Johansson was not yet two years old. Her parents could hardly afford the rent, let alone cable television, and were constantly moved around Manhattan’s government housing projects with their five kids. Inspired by her mother, a film obsessive, she caught the acting bug early, starting her movie career aged just nine in the fantasy comedy North. Over the following 20 years, roles in pivotal movies like Ghost World, Lost in Translation, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the Avengers franchises and, most recently, Don Jon and Her have made her our generation’s most coveted screen siren.
Yet the young woman standing opposite me reciting lines from America bears little resemblance to the red-carpet glamour puss beloved by tabloid picture editors. She’s replaced the Saint Laurent leather jacket with a baggy blue denim t-shirt, washed her shoot make-up off and piled her strawberry-blond hair into a casual ponytail. Obviously she’s still stunning, but right now the bombshell is off duty. This is Scarlett in the raw.
After a few more vocal takes, she suggests going for a drink. We ride a cramped elevator down to the street, with the actress cradling a gargantuan bouquet of roses that have just been delivered to the photo studio. Outside, darkness has descended on the 11th arrondissement. It’s bitterly cold and Johansson’s not familiar with the area, so she calls her limo to take us to Montparnasse, her current stomping ground.
The black Mercedes S pulls up within a minute. Midnight-blue mood lighting snakes its way around the interior. Didier, the driver, is bumping TLC’S 1992 debut, Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip. Perhaps he’s unaware that his famous passenger once recorded an album of Tom Waits covers with Dave Sitek that featured David Bowie. Not that it would make any difference – Didier later declares that he only cruises to new jack swing. “We’re going to a bar on Rue Delambre in Montparnasse, right by Le Dôme – you know, the fish restaurant?” Johansson instructs him after consulting a new banana-coloured iPhone, her first ever. “It’s called the Rosebud.”
“I’ve had roles which have become all-encompassing, when I’ve been like, ‘Whoa, where’s my life?’, and felt like the floor had been swept from underneath me” – Scarlett Johansson
Text Tim Noakes / Styling Jacob K / Photography Benjamin Alexander-Huseby / dazeddigital.com