Scarlett Johansson and Liev Schreiber on A View from the Bridge

An exclusive photo gallery, plus the stars' thoughts on their play, New Year's Eve and being very hairy.

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Just in time for the holidays, Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson take on Arthur Miller's superdark A View from the Bridge, about a longshoreman (Schreiber) who is dangerously obsessed with his 17-year-old niece (Johansson). After the photo shoot, TONY sat down with the pair for a three-way chat.

Just in time for the holidays, Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson take on Arthur Miller's superdark A View from the Bridge, about a longshoreman (Schreiber) who is dangerously obsessed with his 17-year-old niece (Johansson). After the photo shoot, TONY sat down with the pair for a three-way chat.

How well do you two know each other?
Scarlett Johansson: I mean, we've met each other before, kind of around New York...
Liev Schreiber: She's worked with some people I've worked with...

Does your director, Gregory Mosher, get you warmed up in rehearsal with goofy games?
Schreiber: We haven't had any of those silly actor games yet, except the other day when we went in the theater.

Did you have to, like, pretend to be a toaster?
Johansson: Not that silly. We had to say the alphabet in a very silly way. I loved those games as a kid. The whole idea is that you get uncomfortable and then you explore that discomfort and then you let go of it. Eventually.

Scarlett, are you dealing with discomfort being on Broadway for the first time?
Schreiber: I'm stunned by the level of security she seems to have. I really expected her to be a lot more scared. I mean, we've both been flipping out. Or at least I have.
Johansson: That's only my ignorant bliss. [Laughs] See, you guys know what's to come. I'm that idiot that you lead into the room, being like, "What's going on? What are you all so nervous about?"
Schreiber: I thought it had to be that. Or else that you'd been drinking. But you didn't smell like you'd been drinking.

So. Let's play some getting-to-know-each-other games.
Schreiber: Oh, man.
Johansson: I'm not going to be a toaster.

Well, I thought you could ask each other some questions. Like Scarlett, what would you really like to know about Liev?
Johansson: Actually, I don't know much about Liev. I don't know where you grew up, if you have any brothers or sisters, what your parents did... I don't know anything. Honestly, it's, like, the last thing on my mind. I don't know anything about the cast. I don't know that I want to know anything about them. Which is probably pretty rude. [Laughs]

So do you look at Liev and just think of his character, Eddie? A scary, incestuous curmudgeon?
Johansson: Oh that ol' Eddie. [Laughs] No, it's not that we're working in some Method way. It's just that Liev is...a mysterious character. It's nice to keep it that way.

Liev, do you feel the same way?
Schreiber: What I love about actors is that they hurtle themselves into relationships without any baggage. There's something unique about us. We work very intimately, very quickly, without a lot of backstory. It's just the way we are. I'm sure it makes for a lot of neuroses—three-month relationships and then you never see each other again. But there's something kind of fantastic about the period when you're working together so intimately. And none of the other shit matters.
Johansson: It's funny. You end up learning about people in such an intimate way. You feel what they're feeling, you see the changes in their face, how they react to things, and you're so vulnerable to them.

Scarlett, a lot of movie actors who try theater get destroyed by critics. Are you concerned about being raked over the coals?
Johansson: The only thing that worries me about that is that I wouldn't have the opportunity to work again. I've been praised, criticized and dragged through the dirt for 17 years. It would be heartbreaking, but what else can I do? Not go there?
Schreiber: That is really the heart of it. Once you get past all the hurt feelings and the ego, the truth is you just want to keep working.
Johansson: What else do we have? What, would we open a bakery? [Laughs]
Schreiber: It's like the silly actor games: If you're not prepared to make a complete jackass of yourself, in front of not only the audience but also the actors, then you're not worth the money they paid to get into the theater.

 

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