Spike Jonze, Scarlett Johansson and Joaquin Phoenix attend the premier of “Her” in 2013. (Photo: Alessandra Benedetti – Corbis via Getty Images)
Scarlett Johansson says the robot sex scene in “Her” just about caused Joaquin Phoenix to short-circuit.
In Spike Jonze’s 2013 sci-fi romance, Johansson plays Samantha, an Alexa-like virtual assistant. Johansson doesn’t actually appear on camera in the movie, but her voice is omnipresent. Phoenix portrays her owner, Theodore, who eventually falls in love with the artificially intelligent assistant.
The two characters share an intimate scene in which Johansson makes sex and orgasm noises. She explained to Dax Shepard and Monica Padman on their “Armchair Expert” podcast Wednesday that the offbeat sex scene was pretty awkward to put together.
The “Black Widow” star explained that Phoenix had already filmed his end of the scene, but because the film only features Johansson’s voice, he needed to join her in a recording studio to work with her on her part.
“Joaquin comes in, we try to get through one take, and he was, like, losing it,” Johansson said about 47 minutes into the episode. “He was like, angry … He had already done [the scene], he had done it in person, and now he was with me, in this weird theater, I’m in this box and [Joaquin] is staring at me, the lights are low, and like, Spike is there. It was so bizarre.”
“Joaquin was so upset about it, he left the studio,” she added. “He needed a break.”
Johansson said that thinking back on the scene today gives her “panic,” and that she totally understood where Phoenix was coming from.
“You don’t want to hear your voice, ever,” Johansson said about 46 minutes in. “You definitely don’t want to hear what you sound like having an orgasm. You definitely don’t want to hear what you sound like having a fake orgasm — ew. It’s so gross.”
Well, it’s a good thing Jonze didn’t cast Kim Cattrall channeling her character from “Sex and the City” in his film. A 2014 parody trailer for “Her” ― in which Cattrall, instead of Johansson, plays Samantha — suggests the movie could’ve been way more uncomfortable for Phoenix.