SCARLETT JOHANSSON FREES HER MIND IN “LUCY”

lucy, scarlett johansson

Portraying strong, unique female characters on the big screen is always a welcome challenge for Scarlett Johansson. So when casting his latest action-thriller “Lucy,” and writer-director Luc Besson needed to find an actress who could be believable as extremely vulnerable, as well as superpowered, when her exposure to an illicit substance inadvertently makes her acquire incredible skills, Johansson quickly came to mind.

Producer Virginie Besson-Silla describes the unlikely heroine of this story: “Lucy is an average girl who’s having fun with her friends in Asia, and there’s a lot of partying going on. She’s discovering life, but she’s going to discover it the hard way…and go much further than she would ever expect.”

lucy, scarlett johansson

For the role, Besson and his producer reached out to Scarlett Johansson, who has starred in intimate films such as “Lost in Translation” and “Her,” as well as action blockbusters including “Iron Man 2,” “The Avengers” and, most recently, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Besson was impressed by the actress’ discipline. He explains that she was precise and professional from the get-go: “When we first met, Scarlett had read the script and I enjoyed the way she talked about it. She was excited for the right reason, which was the story. At that moment, it was a done deal for me. She was definitely the one.”

Johansson explains that one of her interests in portraying Lucy is based on the fact that the character “is in a transient phase in her life when we find her. She’s figuring out who she is, and she’s feeling like she should probably get her life on track.” The actress was not only attracted to the material, but to Besson’s vision. She notes: “The film poses some complex existential questions. It would have been hard to imagine how the script has evolved because so much of that is Luc’s vision. Anything I could imagine the film to look like, just from reading the descriptions in the script, pales in comparison to the actual life that Luc breathed into this project.”

Johansson acknowledges that even though she was initially disoriented by the screenplay’s nonlinear structure, she knew that she could trust the director. Quite familiar with Besson’s work, she cast aside caution and signed on to the film. “This is actually what drew me to this project,” she insists. “I had to trust Luc’s vision. I remember meeting him and he said, ‘You have to trust that I know what this is about because it can be vague at times. But if you see what I’m seeing, you’ll believe in it.’ So, I took a leap of faith. He’s a formidable guy who knows what he sees in his mind and wants that vision to be executed perfectly.”

Everyone involved in the production acknowledges that Lucy was a highly demanding role. Still, Johansson went beyond everyone’s expectations. Commends Besson-Silla: “It was all the more difficult, as Lucy starts off as a plain girl and turns into, as it were, a superhero. She goes through so much. Scarlett was able to take that journey easily.”

With such a clear vision of his protagonist, Besson was able to devise a method to help his leading lady get in character. He explains: “We created something very funny, which Scarlett had on her wall, to allow her to understand what reactions I wanted from her when I asked her to play, say, 25 percent, or 50 percent, or 70 percent of her brainpower.

“For every 10 percent, we charted out what you could do with that percentage— your level of knowledge and possibilities,” Besson continues. “It was a very good guide. Every morning she’d look at the chart to see which girl she had to play. If you look at the Lucy at the beginning and the Lucy at the end, they have little in common. When we arrived on set, Scarlett was exceptional. You can ask for whatever you want and she says, ‘Okay.’ She’s always willing to try.”

The actress admits that the most challenging part was to portray Lucy as a truly relatable character, despite the psychological and physical changes that she’s experiencing: “As the drug kicks in, Lucy gradually loses the ability to empathize and to feel pain. Even though she can delve deeply into someone’s memory and eventually control him physically, she doesn’t have any opinion. She loses her preconceived ideas or judgment about the other person. It was difficult to avoid making my performance flat and monotonous. You have to see the humanity behind her circumstances.”

Opening across the Philippines on August 06, “Lucy” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

WITNESS “LUCY” TRANSFORM INTO WARRIOR BEYOND HUMAN LOGIC

Lucy

From “La Femme Nikita” and “The Professional” to “The Fifth Element,” writer/director Luc Besson has created some of the toughest, most memorable female action heroes in recent cinematic history.  Now, Besson directs Scarlett Johansson and Academy Award® winner Morgan Freeman in Universal Pictures’ “Lucy,” an action-thriller that examines the possibility of what one human could truly do if she unlocked 100 percent of her brain capacity and accessed the furthest reaches of her mind.

It has long been hypothesized that human beings only use a small percentage of our cerebral capacity at any given time.  For centuries, speculative science has postulated what would occur if mankind could actually evolve past that limit.  Indeed, what would happen to our consciousness and newfound abilities if every region of the brain was concurrently active?  If each one of the 86 billion densely packed neurons in a human brain fired at once, could that person become, in fact, superhuman?

In Besson’s story, we meet Lucy (Johansson), a carefree young student living in Taiwan who is tricked by her boyfriend into delivering a briefcase to a business contact. Before she can even comprehend the situation in which she’s become ensnared, Lucy is grabbed and held hostage by the merciless Mr. Jang (Choi Min Sik of “Oldboy,” “Lady Vengeance”).

When his thugs surgically implant in our heroine a package loaded with a powerful synthetic substance—one that would likely kill her if it were to leak—her terror turns to desperation.  Alongside a handful of fellow unwilling hosts, she is sent to the airport with the objective of flying across the world as a transport vessel for material that is priceless to her kidnappers.

When the chemical is accidentally unleashed in and absorbed by Lucy’s system, her body begins the unimaginable: her cerebral capacity is unlocked to startling, and previously hypothetical, levels.  As she attempts to comprehend and incorporate the incredible changes in her mind and body, Lucy begins to feel everything around her—space, air, vibrations, people, even gravity—and develop superhuman traits including telepathy, telekinesis, expanded knowledge and breathtaking control over matter.

While the substance continues to awaken and unlock every dormant corner of her mind, Lucy races across the planet to enlist the help of Professor Samuel Norman (Freeman), whose decades of research on the brain’s potential makes him unparalleled in the field…and the only person on Earth with the ability to see where this might lead.

Aiding Lucy in her quest to reach Dr. Norman is French police Capt. Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked of “Syriana”), a dispassionate officer who commands his bureau.  Although disturbed by Lucy’s seemingly inhuman powers—ones that are growing by the minute—Del Rio would sacrifice his own life to protect the young woman who looks to him to retain the last vestiges of her humanity.

Relentlessly pursued by her former captors, who will kill anyone to extract their product from the woman who has become their biggest adversary, Lucy begins to turn the tables and transform into a warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Opening across the Philippines on August 06, “Lucy” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

ACTION-THRILLER “LUCY” UPS THE STAKES WITH NEW IMAGES

Lucy_Teaser_Poster

Universal Pictures has recently released the teaser images, including an international poster, of its upcoming action-thriller “Lucy” starring Scarlett Johansson.

From “La Femme Nikita” and “The Professional” to “The Fifth Element,” writer/director Luc Besson has created some of the toughest, most memorable female action heroes in cinematic history.

Lucy, Scarlett Johansson

Now, Besson directs Scarlett Johansson in Universal Pictures’ “Lucy,” an action-thriller that tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic. The film also stars Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman.

Opening across the Philippines on August 20, “Lucy” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

JOHANSSON’S BLACK WIDOW DARKER THAN EVER IN “CAPTAIN AMERICA” SEQUEL

Scarlett Johansson

Joining Steve Rogers aka Captain America in his latest adventure, Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” is familiar ally Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, played once again by topnotch actress Scarlett Johansson.

Natasha has become Steve Rogers’ closest ally in the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization as she helps him adjust to his new role. “When we first meet Natasha and Steve, it’s kind of in real time, so a couple of years have gone by and they have worked on many different missions together,” informs Johansson. “They have gotten to know each other better, so they have more ease and banter to their conversations. I really like the dynamic because their friendship is far more interesting to me than if they were to have a romantic relationship.”

Scarlett Johansson

The actress continues, “Natasha is a very strong-willed, thoughtful, intelligent woman, but we don’t really know if she is capable of a romantic relationship as she has so many trust issues and the last thing on her mind is getting a boyfriend. Obviously Steve Rogers is an attractive guy, but I think she’s still learning how to be herself—whoever that is—and she’s starting to realize new things with her friendship with Steve Rogers being the catalyst that allows her to be self-reflective and understanding.”

For Chris Evans, having his longtime friend Johansson as his co-star makes it easier to ground the characters relationship in reality. “I’ve known Scarlett for over ten years now. She’s like a sister,” says Evans. “We’ve done four movies now, and it’s just so nice having a history with someone off camera because I think that bleeds onscreen. Cap and Black Widow are very different people; it’s kind of like this odd pairing. Her morality is questionable and Cap’s a Boy Scout. She makes her living by lying and Cap couldn’t do it if he tried. When they are at the point where they really can’t trust anyone,it becomes an interesting relationship because it involves trusting someone you don’t know that well.”

Scarlett Johansson

Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Nick Fury, agrees with his co-star’s assessment of Black Widow. “Natasha does things that Steve Rogers won’t do,” informs Jackson. “Natasha doesn’t ask questions; she just follows orders and there’s no line that she won’t cross for Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Natasha’s relationship with Nick Fury is very special. They’ve been through some things together and he knows a lot more about her than most people. In this film their bond is tested in an interesting way.”

For Johansson, the film was an opportunity to delve deeper into the character’s cryptic past, which has only been glossed over in “Iron Man 2” and “Marvel’s The Avengers.” “We continue to open up the story and give little tidbits and throw the bone out once in a while as to where she came from and what her background is,” relates Johansson. “There’s a lot to explore in the past but certainly where she’s going too. When you take a character who’s had the past that she’s had, who has seen the darkest places, over time she appreciates what the right thing is in her mind and starts to understand humanity.”

Describing the relationship in the film between Black Widow and Captain America, director Joe Russo adds, “We were gifted by Joss a very complex, fascinating character in Black Widow that we could use to push against Cap and bring different colors out of him. Cap’s got a very clear goal that he wants to achieve but it becomes more complicated when other characters intersect him and he has to work off of them. Scarlett and Chris have a great relationship because they’ve done a lot of movies together. Their chemistry is fantastic in the film and they both deliver amazing performances. I think it’s because of the depth of character, and the contrast that they present to one another. One craves the truth, the other couldn’t be more facile with it.”

Scarlett Johansson

Adds director Anthony Russo, “We couldn’t resist the idea of putting those two characters together because Cap has such a strong moral code and Black Widow lies for a living; it’s fire and water. To force those two into a situation where they have to engage each other and trust each other made for some great drama.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier” opens in the Philippines on March 26, 2014, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

In addition to “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Marvel Studios will release a slate of films based on the Marvel characters including “Guardians of the Galaxy” on August 1, 2014; “Avengers: Age of Ultron” on May 1, 2015; and “Ant-Man” on July 17, 2015.