Johansson brings some superhero savoir faire to ‘Lucy’

by George Hadley-Garcia

Special To The Japan Times

If Scarlett Johansson were to have one superpower, perhaps it would be the ability to master any language possible.

“Eventually I’d like to do a French-language movie,” she tells The Japan Times. “I’ve seen French movies where Sigourney Weaver or Jane Fonda spoke all their own lines, and I was very impressed.”

The star of the cult film “Lost in Translation” allows that she’d also “love to do something in Japanese,” but thinks it may be beyond her capabilities. “I’d have to study hard . . . though I’m sure it would be worth it.”

The 29-year-old Johansson is currently starring in French director Luc Bresson’s “Lucy,” a sci-fi action film that sees her kicking some major butt. Lucy is a student in Taipei who is forced to become a drug mule — specifically for a new drug called CPH4. The substance is sewn into her stomach, but is then accidentally released into her system, endowing her with telepathy, super strength and various other powers.

“It would be horrible to be super-human, really,” Johansson admits. “I remember (the TV series) ‘The Bionic Woman.’ Everyone thought it was so cool, and so did I. But when you move inside a character like Lucy, you put on a different mind-set. (For instance,) in one scene she tells her mother she can ‘feel everything’ but she tells her in tears, because it’s so overpowering.”

The film trades in the myth that humans use only about 10 percent of their brain power. Lucy’s reaction to the drug she’s smuggling allows her to gradually tap the full 100 percent.

Made in Taipei, Paris and New York, “Lucy” isn’t a huge departure for Johansson, who last year voiced a computer operating system in “Her,” and played an alien in “Under the Skin.” Is she drawn to futuristic female characters?

“You know, when an actress is young and blonde, she can be bankable but she’s seldom given much range,” she says. “Sooner or later, she’s categorized, and repetition of any category usually leads to boredom — for the audience and for the performer. I figure, why not take chances?”

Johansson will get the chance to do some more butt-kicking when she reprises the role of Black Widow in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” next year.

“Lucy” is now playing in cinemas nationwide. For more information, visit www.lucymovie.jp.