The chemistry of Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow is so striking that you’d be forgiven if you thought the Marvel Studios action spy thriller was the latest of several collaborations together. Instead of, Widow marks Johansson’s ninth appearance in the MCU and introduces viewers to Pugh’s character Yelena Belova, who shares a tragic past with Natasha Romanoff. Since Natasha sacrificed her life in 2019 Avengers: Endgame, Johansson indicated that Widow – which takes place seven years before End of Game – is probably her swan song as a character she has inhabited since the 2010s Iron man 2. So, she now conveys to Pugh the same words of wisdom that Samuel L. Jackson once gave her.
“The physical labor is so exhausting, and you can really burn yourself out with that stuff,” Johansson said. Hollywood journalist. “I told Florence at the beginning that it was a long job. And selling things – the emotional courage behind it – is a much more valuable way to spend your time than trying to be a professional athlete. The whole stunt department is made up of amazing athletes, and you’ll never reach their 16 years of professionalism, or anything, in four weeks. So this is the only advice I wish I had, that Sam Jackson finally gave me and now I’m going through Florence on my own. “Don’t kill yourself, kid! Sam Jackson told me; It was something like that. So I took his advice.
Black Widow also contains a running gag involving Yelena’s aversion to Natasha’s tendency to pose during fights. As it turned out, this detail was added to the script at the last minute after Pugh commented on how impractical this behavior was.
“I remember the stunt team was like, ‘So Florence, what are we going to do about your pose?'” Pugh recalls. “And I was like, ‘Oh my God, I have to think about a pose !?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, because you know Scarlett is that.’ And I was like, ‘I know! Who would really land like that? This is ridiculous!’ And they were like, ‘Well, yeah. If she’d landed like that she would’ve broken her spine. And I remember I was just teasing [Scarlett] for that, and Eric [Pearson], the screenwriter, was on set and said to himself: “Yes, that’s fine in the script!”
In a recent conversation with THR, Johansson and Pugh also discuss their kitchen fight scene and how it helped them get to know each other pretty quickly. They are also considering their own individual projects with filmmaker Sebastian Lelio.
The whistle is a pretty touching component of this film. Since anything can happen in post-production, were these your real whistling skills?
Scarlett Johansson: (Laughs.) Yes! These were our real whistles! We put our lips together and huffed.
Florence Pugh: (Laughs.) Didn’t you need a little warm-up, Scarlett, if I remember correctly?
Johansson: No, I can wet my whistle!
Johansson and Pugh: (To laugh.)
Pouf: So they were in fact our real whistles.
So I knew this movie was for me when it debated the pronunciation of Budapest, but it really held me in the palm of my hand once Natasha and Yelena tied themselves around car keys. Conversely, when did you first bond as actors?
Johansson: We had a very unique bonding experience in that we basically bonded in a headache.
Johansson and Pugh: (To laugh.)
Johansson: So we stuck on a headache. There was a rehearsal period and (director) Cate Shortland brought in someone who could coach us through bonding and trusting exercises. And it was a little wacky and fun. But the real connection happened on Florence’s first or second day of work when we immediately slammed into door frames and cupboards. It was so physical, and it was a real icebreaker. (Laughs.)
Pouf: The moment I’m totally dead is when we were doing a scene and Scarlett put her hand under my armpit. (Laughs.) And I just died because I knew how sweaty it was. So Scarlett looked at me and said, “It’s a sweat pit.” I said to myself, “Oh, no! That’s it. It’s finish. RIP Scarlett Johansson tested my sweat. (Laughs.)
Johansson: (Laughs.) It’s hard work, but someone has to do it.
Florence, were your professional wrestling skills useful to you during this reconciliation?
Pouf: Oh my God. I am so grateful for all the work we have done on Fight with my family. I felt like I wasn’t so intimidated by the stunt department just because of it. Anytime you have to be physical in any way, it’s intimidating. You basically want to look like a cool person, but most of the time you don’t. We must therefore learn to look good by moving, and with Fight with my family, it was such a silly, fun and wonderful concert that it really took away any fear of movement and action in the future. So that really turned me on because I really like the action.
Scarlett, Black Widow is your ninth appearance in the MCU if you count Captain Marvel‘s coda, and this is obviously Florence’s first Marvel movie among many. Have you ever taken Florence aside and offered her the advice you wish someone had given you in 2009?
Johansson: Florence is so much in control of herself. She makes her own way and I never felt the need to guide her. It’s weird because she’s here now and I’m talking about her. But she feels so good about herself; it is very anchored; and she also has a very healthy career and a healthy ego. So she didn’t need my advice at all. She takes care of herself. But the physical labor is so exhausting, and you can really burn yourself out with that stuff. When I started doing all the stuff in Iron man 2, we had a really big fight streak in the hallway, and it was really complicated. Back then, actors were doing a lot more of their own stunts, and it was less polished. I’ve spent so many months training for this, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be physically comfortable with the stunts and the choreography you do; it should be totally second nature in some ways. But I told Florence at the start that it was a long job. She was especially frustrated with something she wasn’t going to land or whatever, and it’s such a long job that you have to protect yourself physically. And selling things – the emotional courage behind it – is a much more valuable way to spend your time than trying to be a professional athlete. (Laughs.) The whole stunt department is made up of amazing athletes, and you will never reach their 16 years of professionalism, or anything, in 4 weeks. And these shoots are long. They are very, very taxing in different ways, and you need to save your energy where it is most valuable. So this is the only advice I wish I had, that Sam Jackson finally gave me and now I’m going through Florence on my own. (Laughs.) “Don’t kill yourself, kid!” Sam Jackson told me; It was something like that. So I took his advice.
Yelena gives Natasha a hard time about her tendency to pose during fights, and although I’ve never heard this comment before, I can’t see it now.
Johansson and Pugh: (To laugh.)
Considering the specificity of this sighting, have Natasha’s poses been a joke between you and your stunt team over the years?
Johansson: My God ! All the while we thought we looked so badass!
Pouf: (Laughs.) You do!
Johansson: (Laughs.) Our egos have just been crushed. Florence crushed them in 15 seconds with that commentary, and of course, that was built into the script. [Screenwriter] Eric Pearson was like, “We have to use this!” I say to myself: “10 years of work! 10 years of work!
Pouf: This is what you said! That’s exactly what you said on the set! It was funny because we obviously have this dynamic of teasing right away; it comes very naturally. And when we were in rehearsals, I remember the stunt team saying, “So Florence, what are we going to do about your pose?” And I was like, “Oh my God, I have to think about a pose! And they were like, “Yeah, because you know Scarlett is that.” And I was like, “I know! Who would actually land like this? That’s ridiculous! “And they were like,” Well, yeah. If she’d landed like that, she would’ve broken her spine. And I was like, “You think Scarlett knows that !?” remember I was teasing her just for that, and Eric, the writer, was on set and said, “Yeah, that’s okay with the script!”
Johansson and Pugh: (To laugh.)
Your Black Widow co-star Rachel Weisz made a great movie called Disobedience a few years ago, and you both have separate projects in development with its director, Sebastian Lelio. Likewise, did Rachel act as a sort of matchmaker on the Widow together, or is it nothing more than a coincidence?
Johansson: I loved Disobedience, and by a strange proxy, Rachel served as matchmaker without even realizing it. But it really is pure coincidence. I met Sebastian a few years ago; I have been a huge fan of his work during his career. So I just wanted to meet him and find out what interested him and what he was working on. So we met and talked about it all. We looked for things to work on for a while, sent each other ideas and kept in touch. We therefore developed this project during this quarantine period. It was that weird fever dream project we worked on, but it’s pure coincidence that Florence is working with him in July or August.
Pouf: Yes, in July! I’m so excited. I am really so excited
Johansson: He may be stalking us! I think that’s more of a question for Sebastian. He may have a strange strategy.
Pouf: Do you think he’s going to go after David Harbor next?
Johansson: (Laughs.) Sure! Why not!?
Well I hope you will share the screen again soon.
Johansson: Thank you so much!
Pouf: I also want to share the screen with her again.
But not a Zoom screen – a big screen.
Pouf: (Laughs.) Yeah, a real one.
Black Widow is available in theaters on July 9, as well as on Disney + Premier Access.