The first time I saw Scarlett Johansson in person she was literally being mobbed by photographers at the Dolce & Gabbana spring show. I sat in my seat and watched the spectacle from afar: An explosion of light bulbs, each photographer screaming her name louder than the next. It was startling, at best.
The next time I spotted the actress, it was at the Dolce & Gabbana offices later that afternoon -- she had just returned from the show. We were meeting to discuss her current role as the face of Dolce & Gabbana Beauty. This was the Scarlett you see in the magazines, on the red carpet: cat-eye liner, red lips, '40s era hair, an insanely chic (and very tight-fitting) dress, glittery heels. In other words: incredibly stunning. I was feeling more than a little glamorized. And slightly intimidated. That is until she introduced herself and immediately asked me what I thought of the show.
Johansson describes her partnership with the fashion house as a perfect fit. "I felt like the aesthetic was something that I really appreciated, very feminine," says Johansson. And she couldn't feel more comfortable working with the designers, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce -- who she calls "the boys." "They're very down-to-earth actually," says the actress. After she revealed her '90s makeup mishaps (blue lipstick, lots of glitter) and the fact that she obsessed with baking vegan cupcakes, I was starting to feel the same way about Johansson.
The next day this sentiment was even more apparent: Sitting in the Milan airport, killing time before my flight back to New York, I was eating a sort of sad salad (the only non-bread option I could find at 11am). Jet-lagged and half-asleep, I looked over at the table next to me, and there was Scarlett by herself, eating the same salad, hair tied back, wearing glasses, a hat, clogs, looking totally anonymous. And seemingly without makeup, she was just as gorgeous as the day before.
So what did you think of the show?
It was great, I love that kind of early '60s sort of playsuits and all those great '50s cut dresses. You know, the big collar of the shirts. It was really a great show; I was really excited about it. And I love the lace and the jewels, I'm like a magpie -- anything that's glittery, I want it. All the girls in the front row were salivating. They are like, "Ahh, it's so sparkly, I want it."
What's your daily beauty routine?
I have sensitive skin, so I use actually just Cetaphil face wash and Clarins moisturizer. And as far as makeup -- I don't wear a lot of makeup during the day. I mean, day-to-day I'll use concealer, blush, eyeliner, mascara, but right now I'm wearing Dolce&Gabbana Gloss Fusion Lipstick in in Infatuation. I like the consistency of these because they have a conditioner in them. I have it on now. And the shade Poetic, too. Combined, a little combo action. But yeah, day-to-day, I wear mostly natural makeup.
What's the one beauty product you always have in your bag?
Before Dolce&Gabanna did their creamy foundation, they used to have a powdered foundation. It's good because it's concealing, but it's not like you're wearing a full face of makeup. So I carry that with me and that's it really. I don't really carry a lot of makeup in my bag.
Is there a person, place or memory that inspires you beauty-wise?
If I'm doing a red carpet, I'll usually look to the golden age of Hollywood a little bit, whether that's Rita Hayworth or Lauren Bacall or later, like Brigitte Bardot. I like to kind of give a nod to that era; I feel like the red carpet deserves it.
And are there tips that you learned from your mother growing up for beauty or skincare?
My mom would always say, "Drink a lot of water and get a lot of sleep and don't smoke." So I follow some of those rules. And growing up, my mom always wore a lot of makeup. My mom was very glamorous. I used to sit at her vanity and use her makeup -- I know a lot of moms, they don't really like their daughters to wear a lot of makeup. My mom was always very encouraging, she used to take me shopping so I learned a lot of about makeup application from her actually.
How old were you when you first started wearing makeup?
Probably around 13 or something.
Do you remember the first product that you bought?
Well at that time blue lipstick was very popular and lots of glitter. It was the '90s and I had a lot of blue lipstick, glittery nail polish, glitter eyeliner -- I was like a disco ball. You remember that time.
Of all the characters you've played, which beauty look did you get into the most?
Probably "Black Dahlia." It takes place in '48, I think it is. And it's just a great period, the clothes were absolutely gorgeous and makeup is really classic -- red lipstick with the little flick of eyeliner. And I had really white hair at the time. It was uber glamorous.
What did it feel like to become the first face of Dolce&Gabbana beauty?
I've worn their clothes since I had the curves to fill them out, probably [since I was] 16. To me, it was just kind of a perfect fit. I felt like the aesthetic was something that I really appreciated, very feminine. You know, a celebration of femininity, voluptuous figure and curves and kind of this independent woman. And the boys love that: they're always saying [they love] Sophia Loren, Monica Bellucci, and all these very strong women that have devil-may-care attitudes.
What's it like hanging out with Stefano and Domenico?
They're great, they're so much fun. And they're so different, too -- Domenico's much more serious and shy and Stefano's so outgoing and crazy. Which is funny because the brand is so luxurious and glam and everything. Actually, to meet these guys who are very humble and came from very humble beginnings, it's really interesting to talk to them. They've got an amazing story. [On-set] we collaborate on the looks. The first season was a little bit removed, it was kind of the movie starlet, glamorous, slightly kind of vacant look that was very chic. This season, we did a much more sort of at home, intimate, more playing with the camera, more relatable girl. And so we kind of come up with those ideas between us. They're very hands-on, we shoot the campaign and we end up waiting for hours because it's like, "Okay, have they seen the looks yet? Do they like them? Do they like the direction?" Their presence is very much there.
And what's it like working with makeup artist Pat McGrath?
I love her, have you met her? She is so hysterical, oh my God, she kills me. She's so funny; it takes us hours to get ready because she just has so many stories. I tell her stories to other people -- she's just full of laughs, life and enthusiasm. She's so great and so talented.
What tips have you learned from her on-set?
I've noticed that she's all about balance, there's never too much. She's always accenting one feature...we did the Mediterranean eye which is lots of blues and really smokey. It's always with a pale lip and a pale cheek and for her, it's all about balance. Her looks are never garish, it's always chic because it's always a play on one feature.
What's one thing people don't know about you?
Don't know about me? Oh God, what don't people know about me these days? I like to cook, major baker. Yeah, this past summer I got into vegan baking so I was baking up a storm -- breads, cakes, muffins. I love to bake.
What are you reading right now?
Right now, I am reading two things actually. I'm reading "A Moveable Feast" and I'm also reading a collection of Herman Hesse's short stories.
Not to blow up your spot, but what's your favorite under-the-radar place in New York?
My favorite under-the-radar spot is probably, I would say, Babycakes Bakery after midnight. They're not open, but I actually recently met the night-shift baker, so you might find me in Babycakes Bakery eating gluten-free cupcakes at 3 am.
Whose acting career do you really admire?
Probably Philip Seymour Hoffman. He's had an incredible career and he's been able to do theater and do film and sort of transition into each character effortlessly. If I could have anybody's career, it'd be his probably.
Who's been your favorite on-screen romance?
Penelope was pretty great, I have to say. She's full of passion and life, and she doesn’t have stubble so that's a plus. I've had a lot of really great on-screen romances, but Hugh Jackman was wonderful. They call him the mayor of Hollywood, he's so old-school and kind of reminds me of, I don't know -- he's got that Cary Grant quality. He can sort of do anything. I don't know, I might just say Penelope just because the lack of stubble.
Is there someone you really look forward to working with someday?
I've always wanted to work with Tim Burton, I love the world he creates and I hope that I can work with him someday. It'd be my dream come true.