Learning with Lucy: Scarlett Johansson Talks Her Superhuman Role


The premise behind Lucy is a fascinating one: a drug mule, forced to work for a Taiwanese mob, is implanted with a drug that unintentionally enters her system and allows her to access her full brain capacity. The Luc Besson film builds upon the theory that humans only use 10 percent of their mental prowess, leaving the majority of their brain power untapped.

Scarlett Johansson tackles the titular role, which falls in line with some of her more recent work. Like Her and Under the SkinLucy keys in on an entity that transcends mere human existence, and, as Vulture reporter Jesse David Fox puts it has a “great desire and capacity for learning.” From operating system, to alien, to superhuman, the characteristic is one Johannsson says helps her look at humanity differently.

“The rules don’t necessarily apply to these characters because they’re not even human,” she told Fox. “That has allowed me to step back and really examine human behavior in a way. As I know myself better—as I get older—I don’t have to relate all of my work to my own experience, necessarily. It’s not as important to me to be able to have a total relationship with the character I’m playing.”

Days ahead of Lucy’s July 25 release, Johansson set down with Vulture to talk being overexposed, looking toward the small screen, and, of all things, tuna sandwiches.

Why Lucy was a perfect fit:

“When I first met Luc, I was doing a Tennessee Williams play that was visceral and raw and this project seemed so abstract. It was challenging in a different way because the character is in this constant state of transition and struggles to hold onto the nuances of herself and her life that make her who she is — that make her human, in her mind. In comparison to the work that I was doing when we met, it seemed like a totally different challenge.”

Why there’s no need to combat celebrity culture:

“It’s something that you see because it’s a part of this overexposure that we experience in celebrity culture and the 24-hour news feed that we’re on. Still, I guess there’s not much you can do about that. It’s there and there’s no sense in fighting against that. ”

How television could be on the horizon:

“I like the idea of the television. I like the long format of it… It depends on if that was brought to me or created by me. But I like the idea of having the time to really imagine a character in a much more in-depth way. Having that freedom sounds kind of fun.”

On tuna sandwiches:

“I live in New York, so I’m surrounded by different sandwiches all over the place. I would say my favorite type of sandwich is probably … maybe a tuna sandwich. I have a simple life.”

Read Johansson’s entire interview here.