Scarlett Johansson Recalls Feeling ‘Out of the Loop’ While Filming ‘Lost in Translation’ With Bill Murray

Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray have legendary on-screen chemistry in the classic romantic comedy Lost in Translation. The two masterfully portray the unusual attraction between each other as they navigate Tokyo, but things were a bit different behind the scenes. 

According to Johansson, the two actors’ large age gap and Murray’s eccentric personality made working on Lost in Translation difficult. 

Scarlett Johansson says shooting ‘Lost in Translation’ was difficult

Scarlett Johannson
Scarlett Johansson | Toni Anne Barson/WireImage

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Prior to Lost in Translation Johansson hadn’t done much work in films with adult roles. Despite being just 17 years old, she managed to hold her own against acting legend Murray. But Johansson admitted in a 2017 interview with Howard Stern that working on Lost in Translation was extremely difficult for her. 

“It was hard; it was a hard shoot for me,” Johansson said. “… I felt sort of out of the loop. I was 17 years old when I made that movie, you know.” 

Scarlett Johansson shares why she felt ‘out of the loop’ filming ‘Lost in Translation’

When asked why she felt “out of the loop,” Johansson mentioned that a big reason was Murray’s eccentric personality. He had a lot of energy and was prone to sudden shifts in his mood, which was the opposite of Johansson’s demeanor at the time. She also noted that she felt a bit isolated because everyone on set idolized Murray so much.

“I think it was because, you know, he kind of has his — he’s a comedian, he’s quirky … and he had a lot of, like, ups and downs, and he had a lot of energy, and he was really, like, kind of always on,” Johansson explained. “And I was, you know, a 17-year-old, and I was sort of like — I was more introspective, I guess. … Yeah, it was hard for me. I think that’s what was kind of isolating about it — is that everybody was so deferential [to Murray].”

Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray still worked well together

Johansson later added that despite their huge differences in personalities, she and Murray had a natural chemistry that allowed them to work well together.

“I was relaxed. … I was kind of in a different headspace, and it was hard to relate to one another,” Johansson said. “But I think, you know, what worked is that when the cameras were rolling and we actually came time to do the work, we worked really well together.”

‘Lost in Translation’ saw unexpected success

Prior to its release, nobody knew what type of reaction Lost in Translation would get. Shot with a production budget of just $4 million, the film had very little promotion or backing from a major American financier. Johansson recalled a feeling of uncertainty about the film prior to its release. 

“Nobody had any idea what the film was going to be like,” Johansson said. “I mean, probably our DP Lance Acord knew what it was going to be like, but I didn’t even know it would — you know, nobody knew that it would be so profound, I think. … I mean it was just kind of abstract, you know. It wasn’t immediately clear what we were capturing.” 

Lost in Translation went on to be a massive success, winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and grossing over $118 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo