The Hungry Crowd: Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson on slaving over eggplant parm and eating (very) well and (very) badly on set.
Is the food better on the set of a big-budget action movie or a low-budget indie film?
I’ve been on huge movies where the food was terrible, and I have done smaller films where the food was really good. It all depends on the producers’ taste. I worked with Drew Barrymore on He’s Just Not That Into You—she was one of the producers—and the food on that set was just unbelievable. Every day, there was a raw bar and a taco stand and a chocolate fountain and all this crazy stuff. Whereas recently, I shot a small movie in Scotland, and we ended up eating pretty much the same thing every day—fish, potatoes, cabbage and some other vegetables, all slopped into a tin.
When I was in Spain filming Vicky Cristina Barcelona, I thought I was going to have this amazing culinary experience, but I found everything too salty and porky.
Do you trade recipes with other actors on the set?
Gwyneth Paltrow and I talked a lot about baking on Iron Man 2. I brought in these vegan chocolate chip–banana muffins and she asked for the recipe, but I really just make it up as I go.
You are playing Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway right now. Do you have a pre-show eating routine?
I try to eat very simply, and very light. I order turkey burgers from a place called Energy Kitchen. You don’t want to go for something like Korean barbecue before you hit the stage. Photo © Christopher Testani.
I’ve heard that you throw great dinner parties. What is the most ambitious meal you’ve ever cooked?
I was cooking for a couple of vegetarian friends once, and I made a shepherd’s pie with a fake-meat soy product that was gross. It had the worst flavor. So I decided to make eggplant parmesan instead, which didn’t seem like it would be a big deal. But it took forever to make! It was so exhausting. I didn’t realize you had to sweat the eggplant and fry each piece perfectly, and then make the sauce on the side, and then everything had to sit and cool. Four hours later, I was cursing my vegetarian friends. Photo © Christian Kargl - Corbis.
If you could invite any fellow actor, living or dead, over for dinner, who would it be?
I would have loved to eat with Bette Davis. She seems like she would have had the most wonderful stories. I’d serve her raw oysters on the half shell and maybe a gazpacho—a nice cold summer meal. And some kind of lovely seasonal cocktail.
What would you cook if Woody Allen were coming to your place for dinner?
If Woody were coming to my house, I’d stick with ordering Chinese takeout. I think that would make him happy. Either that or I would make some Italian-mama dish that he’d be impressed by, like my lasagna. Woody is very particular about food. I think shrimp dumplings and bruschetta are the only two things I’ve ever seen him eat.