Scarlett Johansson was emotional about the audience response to her film Under the Skin at the 2013 Venice International Film Festival.
As this year’s installment of the festival kicks off Wednesday, the event’s artistic director Alberto Barbera recalled memorable moments from previous years in an interview with The Guardian. Barbera said 10 years ago, Johansson, 38, nearly cried when Under the Skin got booed by attendees.
“It was one of the worst screenings I’ve attended. It was the only time the audience booed a film. Scarlett was almost in tears,” said Barbera.
“I tried to say to her: ‘Don’t worry, in time the film will be recognized,’ ” he added. “And that’s exactly what happened. It’s now a cult movie.”
Jonathan Glazer (Birth, The Zone of Interest) directed Under the Skin, in which Johansson stars as an alien among humans, attempting to blend in while preying on men in Glasgow. Some scenes were unscripted, with Johansson improvising with unsuspecting civilians with a hidden camera.
Back in 2014, the actress told The Guardian about her reaction to the booing, calling the moment “very strange.”
“It was the first time I had seen the film with an audience and the first time I saw the film finished. And I was on this huge mezzanine so I felt super-exposed,” she recalled.
“Then at the end, when the lights came up … there was this sound of people cheering and booing at the same time, but with equal gusto. I didn’t know how to react to it,” Johansson continued. “I think I was just … I wouldn’t say disturbed but I was sort of shocked.”
“I looked over at Jonathan and he was filled with glee. Absolutely thrilled,” she added. “We left the theater and I was like, ‘That was so strange,’ And Jonathan was like, ‘That was the best reaction! That was the most amazing sound I’ve ever heard in my life.’ “
Johansson also previously told Harper’s Bazaar UK about the response the movie got at the Venice Film Festival.
“When we had the screening in Venice, people were cheering and people were booing, people were speechless, people were vocal, and it was mad,” she said. “But they were engaged and that’s really the point.”
“Personally, as an audience member I want to have an experience when I see a film and love it, hate it, whatever, I want to still be thinking about it three days later and have the visuals stuck in my mind,” added Johansson.
The actress also told the outlet about the themes of the experimental movie.
“When I watch the film it’s such a personal journey that it’s hard for me to be able to step outside of it and say ‘this is a film about the birth of fear’ or ‘love and sex’ or whatever,” she explained. “I can’t see any of that because I just sit there paralyzed with fear.”
“I’m sure in a few years time I’ll be able to go, ‘Wow, there are all of these themes and subjects…’ The other day someone asked Jonathan and I to describe the film and both of us sat there and were like, ‘Next,’ ” said Johansson.