In the action thriller “Lucy” (written and directed by Luc Besson), Scarlett Johansson plays Lucy, a carefree American party girl in Taiwan whose life is turned upside down when she is kidnapped by a crime syndicate and given a mysterious drug against her will. Lucy soon finds out that the drug has been increasing her brain power and will give her the ability to use 100 percent of her brain.
With her increased abilities (which include telekinesis mind reading), Lucy goes on a race-against-time mission to get revenge on those who kidnapped her because her brain might over-circuit and lead to her premature death. Along the way, Lucy enlists the help of a scientist named Professor Norman (played by Morgan Freeman), who specializes in studying brain power. Here is what Johansson and Freeman said in interviews while filming “Lucy.”
Interview With Scarlett Johansson
How would you describe Lucy?
Johansson: Lucy, in my mind, is just a girl who is living in Taipei, maybe doing a little bit of modeling or odd jobs here and there. She’s a student. And she’s been away from home for six months, and she’s just in a transient phase in her life when we find her. And she’s kind of figuring out who she is and feeling a little bit like she should probably get her life on track. And that’s kind of all we know about her when we find her.
What was it like filming “Lucy” in Taipei?
Johansson: We shot in Taipei for two-and-a-half, three weeks. And I really loved filming in that city. I loved being able to explore that city. And I think in some ways, just the fact that we were all so tired and jet lagged and out of our element added to the disorientation of the character and the place she’s coming out of when she starts to be affected by this drug.
What did you like most about the “Lucy” story?
Johansson: The film is what happens to this young woman who’s put in these very extenuating circumstances that through a brutal series of events lead her to be able to use a greater and greater capacity of her brain. I think she’s a vessel for that to take place. That’s what it’s about.
How was it working with Min Sik Choi, who is a well-known actor in South Korea?
Johansson: It was wonderful working with Choi. He’s a formidable co-star. We didn’t speak the same language, but we could communicate very much with our expression. He’s very warm person it seems. Even though we were doing scenes that were really violent and cold and brutal, he’s so enigmatic, his presence, that we could communicate in a spiritual sort of way.
You’ve done a lot of action movies. How did you physically preparing for the role of Lucy?
Johansson: For me, just to prepare for this film, I wanted to be in really good physical condition because I just wanted to make sure this character looked capable, even though you don’t actually see her doing any kind of martial-arts movements or anything like that. The audience should be able to think, “OK, this girl can handle a gun.”
A lot of the movements that I do in character are with a lot of intention and purpose. I wanted those movements to feel strong. And when you see her, how she stands, how maneuvers, it’s with kind of an inner strength. That just comes from being physically capable.
Since Lucy is a fictional character in fictional circumstances, what kind research did you do to portray this character?
Johansson: I only wanted to be aware of what Luc wanted this character to be — her capacity, how she grows, how this growing capacity affects her intelligence, her ability, what she’s experiencing. I didn’t want that to be muddled by anything the character would know. These things are happening to her, but she’s not previously aware of what this next step is. She’s just evolving as it happens.
Interview With Morgan Freeman
Do you think humans being able to access more of their brain power would be good or dangerous?
Freeman: I think it would be a good thing if we could get that much of our brain power. One of the things that comes along with that is your ability to absorb different aspects of the natural world or knowledge of.
How would you describe Professor Norman?
Freeman: I’m a professor of neurology, lecturing at the Sorbonne. I have been for a number of years doing hypotheses about what happened if you could get access to a larger portion of your brain, say, 20 percent. Right now, it’s very well-accepted that we use only 10 percent of the brain’s capacity.
For more info: “Lucy” website