As many actors and other creative people have noted, facing our fears is often a key to developing creativity and doing exceptional creative work.
Talking about taking on one of the most iconic theatrical roles, Maggie in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” Scarlett Johansson refers to making more demanding choices on herself for roles.
“I felt extreme vulnerability over the last few years, more than I ever had, and no longer wanted to keep rushing into movie jobs or a play just to escape how I was feeling. Once I wanted to work again, I wanted to start playing adults — tough women who knew what it took to survive.”
She said that after her debut on Broadway, in “A View From the Bridge” – for which she earned a Tony Award for featured actress – she wanted to push herself more.
“I decided I wanted to keep doing projects that I didn’t know how to do,” she said. “I’m finally at a place in my life where I feel comfortable not anticipating the result. I’m comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
An article reports one example:
‘Memorizing Maggie’s long monologues in Act I, for instance, so unnerved Ms. Johansson that she asked friends for advice and snapped occasionally when they tried to be positive. “People would say it’s all going to be great, and I would be like,” using profanity for punctuation, “because it felt like a heavy ball and chain around me.”’
Commenting about earlier failing to get the role of ‘Laura’ in a stage production of “The Glass Menagerie,” she said, “I’ve spent most of my life being rejected, but that has only made me more ambitious and competitive. But with some roles I have to learn for myself that it’s not right.”
But she enthuses about her work in “Cat…”: “To bare yourself — to be naked in front of someone and show your belly, and be willing to face the hard truth of pain and rejection — is who I am and is who Maggie is.”
The article comments: ‘Exploring every layer of Maggie is not only about doing justice to the character, Ms. Johansson said, but also a way of expressing gratitude for having a great adult role at this point in her career.’
“I feel like I’ve been transitioning from young woman into womanhood for a very long time,” she said. “Now, as I approach 30, with the last few years behind me, I feel like growing pains are behind me.”
‘Then she laughed and muttered a profanity. “It’s just nice to feel happy.”
From The Kitten Makes Way for the Cat By Patrick Healy, The New York Times December 19, 2012.
[Photo from video at show site catonahottinroofbroadway.com.]