The day before we met the woman we chose to be our ode to the nineties, she was rallying the troops at the Democratic National Convention in support of President Obama. Johansson was advocating the power of the individual, rather than any particular issue: “I’m not going to tell you who to vote for,” she said. “I’m here to ask you to commit to vote.” Through her films, from Lost in Translation to The Avengers, Johansson has consistently evoked a mix of sexuality, restlessness, and strength. In Hitchcock (due out early next year), the behind-the-scenes story of the making of 1960’s Psycho, Johansson portrays Janet Leigh. In the Hitchcock classic, Leigh’s character is punished for her dream of freedom—she’s stabbed to death in the infamous shower scene. It’s impossible to imagine Johansson as that kind of victim. She would stab right back.
Who is your favorite person from the Nineties? Chris Farley. I thought he was hilarious. Growing up, I used to watch Saturday Night Live just to see him. He threw his whole body into the parts he played: He’d become red and sweaty and frantic. When he died, it was really significant for me.
What movie from that decade means the most to you? Jurassic Park was a mind-blowing experience. I wasn’t really afraid of the dinosaurs—I was more afraid of something like a clown coming to eat your brain or Chucky, a little doll that was going to take a knife to your eyeballs. But I actually believed Jurassic Park. I remember saying, “This is going to happen, you guys.”
What fashion trend from the Nineties do you hate? Turtlenecks—they’re horrible. I tried to get into them because they are so practical, but they’re just so unfortunate.
Men seem to like them more than women. Men don’t like turtlenecks. I’ve never met a man who likes anything around his neck other than my hands.