“The Other Boleyn Girl” features many delights for an audience member. It’s a juicy period tale inspired by true events and adapted from a best-selling novel of the same name. It features fabulous costumes; provocative plot twists (adultery, betrayal of every stripe and, yes, even incest); and a moody turn by Eric Bana as King Henry VIII himself.
But forget all that: This one stars Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. Maybe it’s not on the level of De Niro and Pacino teaming up for “Heat,” but to see two big female talents side by side (and as sisters, no less) in a film like this is quite a rarity today.
MTV News chatted with the two stars about their divergent characters (here’s a switch: Natalie’s the bad girl), Scarlett’s upcoming album covering Tom Waits tunes, and why all these two really want to do is dance.
MTV: Let’s talk about these characters. One of you, we can definitely have some sympathy for, but is there anything redeeming about Anne?
Scarlett Johansson: [Sarcastically] Don’t you feel sympathetic towards that character?
Natalie Portman: Aw, that hurts my feelings.
MTV: Nothing personal, but …
Portman: Yeah, she’s born into this world where it’s been sort of prescribed for her to be like a power-monger. They label the kids at the beginning. Anne’s the clever, tricky one, and Mary’s the sweet, good one, and they sort of fulfill their labels.
MTV: It’s refreshing to see a strong sister relationship onscreen. Was that part of the appeal for each of you?
Johansson: Absolutely. A huge part of why I decided to do this project was because Natalie was attached to it and I was desperate to work with her for a while. It’s so rare to have the opportunity to have a project come up with two female leads around the same age, having such a close bond. It was an opportunity I could just not pass up. I was such a fan of Natalie’s for so long. This was like, wow, it just seems too good to be true.
MTV: Scarlett, in this film you have to sing badly. Was that difficult?
Portman: It is so hard because she has such a beautiful voice! In between scenes, you’d hear her humming and it would be like, “Is Nina Simone playing or something?” She had to sing badly in this scene, and I was like, “What’s she gonna do?”
Johansson: Oh, come on, it’s not that hard to be tone-deaf, is it?
MTV: You’ve got an album coming out in a few months, right?
Johansson: I do.
MTV: Natalie, have you heard any of it?
Portman: I hope I get the first copy. I haven’t heard any of it yet.
Johansson: You’ll get one of the comps, I’m sure.
Portman: I wanna pay for it, man!
Johansson: One down. Woo!
MTV: That’s your first 15 bucks right there.
Johansson: Is that how much it’s going for these days? I’m gonna be rich!
MTV: Who’s on the top of your duet list?
Johansson: Hmm … that’s a tough question. Leonard Cohen?
Portman: Is Tom Waits on your album?
Johansson: No, he’s not. We have a couple of people who come on the album who are a surprise.
MTV: You’ve both worked with Woody Allen. Who does the better imitation?
Portman: I’m sure you. I was 14 [during "Everyone Says I Love You"].
Johansson: I have spent many an hour with that man just eating shrimp dumplings and staring at his face. Umm, I can’t, it’s hard when you’re telling a story.
Portman: I think you’re doing it right now. [She laughs.]
Johansson: Maybe we’re just morphed into one. People ask me: “Do your Woody impression!,” and I just can’t.
Portman: You’re not a monkey.
Johansson: Exactly. “Dance, dance!”
MTV: Speaking of dancing, who’s most likely to break into a dance at any moment?
Johansson: [To Portman] I think you might be.
Portman: I feel like we’ve both had a couple dancing nights.
Johansson: We’ve broke it down together. Natalie’s a good dancer.
Portman: Thanks, man.
Johansson: Don’t let this sweet golden appearance …
Portman: You’ve got some moves yourself.
Johansson: I try, I try.
Portman: You did a little booty dance in costume.
Johansson: Oh yeah, the costume booty dances! I have, like, this humongous costume with this long hair, and you’d just be like, “Yeah, yeah!” [She does a booty-slap hand movement in the air.] You know, that always …
Portman: Never ceases to amuse.
Johansson: So wrong, but so right.
MTV: If you put that on the DVD extras, I think you’re going to sell an extra few million copies.
Johansson: [She laughs.] I have to tell you, though, in the costume, it’s anything but sexy. It’s just very wrong.
Portman: It’s very, very funny.
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Other Boleyn Girl.”
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