At this point in his career, Howard Stern is often heralded as a master of the longform interview. His interviewees include luminaries like Paul McCartney and Gwyneth Paltrow, and an infamous subcategory of skeevy dudes who have allegedly slept with a bunch of women (Wilmer Valderrama is a prime example, although Donald Trump probably thinks he belongs in this category as well). Whether he’s doing an in-depth career retrospective or grilling the future President of the United States on whether or not a flat-chested woman can be a “10,” Stern has carved out a special little niche for himself in talk radio. Of course, Stern’s longform interviews would be a whole lot shorter if you cut out all of the invasive personal questions and superfluous discussions of female nudity. On Monday morning, Scarlett Johansson learned this lesson the hard way, subjecting herself to over an hour of Stern commenting on her hotness and quizzing her on male celebrities she would or would not bone.
Johansson did her first-ever Howard Stern interview on the heels of her Ghost in the Shell press tour, during which, she confessed, she kind of lost it. “I finally got so tired of being asked how long it took me to put on my suit and what I wear under there and I said, ‘I’m sorry, do you happen to ask a man this question?’” Johansson is referring to the skin-tight “beige rubber unitard” she wears in the action film. While she refused to entertain Stern’s follow-ups, she did disclose that she hates the word panties—though to be fair, it’s easy to develop an aversion to “panties” after listening to Howard Stern repeatedly ask you about yours. While Johansson was excited to talk about her six-month experience shooting the buzzy film, she immediately turned weary when questioned about accusations of cultural appropriation.
To recap, Ghost in the Shell’s source material is a manga turned movie turned TV series, starring a fierce femme robot named Motoko Kusanagi. Some fans were naturally peeved when Johansson, a white actress, was announced as the face of the live-action Hollywood film. While it may have been a step forward in terms of bringing manga to the masses, it also marked a missed opportunity for an Asian actress to take center stage. When asked by Stern if she wants to say “fuck you” to critics who charge cultural appropriation, Johansson took the subtler approach of citing Mamoru Oshii, the director of Ghost in the Shell’s original anime iteration. In March, Oshii explained that, “The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply.” Johansson added, “The character is literally identity-less” as a human brain with a machine for a body. As confused as she seemed by the controversy, she clarified that she wasn’t shocked by it, since “nothing shocks me.”
Stern’s obsession with nudity finally hit its mark when he turned the conversation towards celebrity photo hacks. Johansson, whose phone was hacked in 2011 and whose nude pictures were leaked online, didn’t hold back. “It was so devastating,” she responded. “It was absolutely shocking and devastating at the time…It was such an invasion. I just felt like as a woman, I felt like it’s such a degrading and awful thing to have to go through that.” She also shared that, “The person who hacked into my email account was also impersonating me and trying to get pictures of other people through it.” While she noted that the hacker (who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to the hacking) had “been following two of his ex-girlfriends, so it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with being famous,” she said she was “one of probably fifty people” targeted, adding, “It feels particularly invasive when you are in the public eye and you’re like, ‘What else can I give you?’” Johansson also issued a warning to other celebrities: “It’s not that hard! It’s a low-level hacking thing—we’re not talking about the dark web here.”
In between dodging obnoxious lines of questioning and insisting that she didn’t want to be set up on a blind date, Johansson divulged some interesting details. She shared that she hates whoever came up with the nickname ScarJo (“I can only imagine it was The Post”), that her “type” includes celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay, and that she had trouble relating to Bill Murray on the set of Lost in Translation. She claimed that she’s good friends with Chris Evans and goes out to dinner with Woody Allen and Soon-Yi—a confession that mysteriously failed to elicit a follow-up. She would also “totally go on” her favorite TV show, Shark Tank, as a celebrity guest. In fact, the high-pressure reality show would probably be less stressful for ScarJo than listening to Howard Stern say “panties.”