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Scarlett Johansson doubles down on Woody Allen defense: 'He's a friend of mine'

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·4 min read
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Scarlett Johansson knows that some of her recent comments — whether it’s defending Woody Allen or clapping back at critics who didn’t want her playing a transgender character — have been controversial, but she won’t be tempering her opinions.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, she doubled down on her defense of “friend” Allen, but also admit that she didn’t handle the Rub & Tug situation well.

“I’m not a politician, and I can’t lie about the way I feel about things,” Johansson told the magazine. “I don’t have that. It’s just not a part of my personality. I don’t want to have to edit myself, or temper what I think or say. I can’t live that way. It’s just not me. And also I think that when you have that kind of integrity, it’s going to probably rub people, some people, the wrong way. And that’s kind of par for the course, I guess.”

Johansson said she stood by her previous comments about Allen, whom she said she would work with again and believes amid his denial of resurfaced allegations of child molestation by his daughter Dylan Farrow. (Farrow slammed Johansson for her remarks.)

“Even though there’s moments where I feel maybe more vulnerable because I’ve spoken my own opinion about something, my own truth and experience about it — and I know that it might be picked apart in some way, people might have a visceral reaction to it — I think it’s dangerous to temper how you represent yourself, because you’re afraid of that kind of response,” she said. “That, to me, doesn’t seem very progressive at all. That seems scary.”

When asked if she felt any of the criticism of her was legitimate, Johansson replied, “I don’t know — I feel the way I feel about it. It’s my experience. I don’t know any more than any other person knows. I only have a close proximity with Woody… he’s a friend of mine. But I have no other insight other than my relationship with him.”

And when pointed out by the interviewer that saying that also says that she doesn’t believe a woman who spoke out, Johansson replied, “Yeah. I do understand how that is triggering for some people. But just because I believe my friend does not mean that I don’t support women, believe women. I think you have to take it on a case-by-case basis. You can’t have this blanket statement — I don’t believe that. But that’s my personal belief. That’s how I feel.”

At that point, Johansson — who worked with Allen in Match Point (2005), Scoop (2006) and Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) — said she wanted to stop discussing the controversial director. She said if she discusses it further, it will be privately with the people involved. Otherwise, “I don’t think that’s productive… it kind of feeds that sort of dragon.”

And while the Jojo Rabbit actress dug her heels in with Allen, she went on to admit that she got the Rub & Tug situation wrong. In July, she was cast as a transgender man, Dante “Tex” Gill, in a film about his life in the world of massage parlors. When the casting was criticized, her spokesperson said, “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” And Johansson said, “I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal.” She withdrew from the film soon after. (This followed another controversy in 2017 when Johansson starred in Ghost in the Shell, a sci-fi film based on a popular Japanese manga and anime.)

“In hindsight, I mishandled that situation,” Johansson said of the Rupert Sanders project. “I was not sensitive, my initial reaction to it. I wasn’t totally aware of how the trans community felt about those three actors playing — and how they felt in general about cis actors playing — transgender people. I wasn’t aware of that conversation —I was uneducated. So I learned a lot through that process. I misjudged that…. It was a hard time. It was like a whirlwind. I felt terribly about it. To feel like you’re kind of tone-deaf to something is not a good feeling.”

When the writer pointed out that her comments about being tone-deaf could be connected back by readers to her thoughts on Allen, she said, “Yes, they will. It feels like a snake eating its tail, doesn’t it?”

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