Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson are nearing the end. You can see it in their faces as they approach the midpoint of their day of press supporting "The Spirit." As they playfully bicker about who got whom sick with the horrendous cold that's going around, they put on their bravest press-friendly faces to hawk visionary comic-book-legend-turned-filmmaker (you can thank him for both "Sin City" and "300") Frank Miller's latest.
The duo portray Silken Floss and the Octopus, respectively, in the stylized adaptation of the Will Eisner creation. Evildoers to be sure, but at least they've got flair as they tangle with Gabriel Macht's eponymous hero.
Amidst coughs and sniffles, MTV News chatted with Johansson and Jackson about their latest flick, their future singing plans and why you just might see them saddling up for another Frank Miller movie soon.
MTV: According to this film, I have a diabolical villain and the most beautiful woman ever sitting in front of me. Please understand, I am just quoting the film.
Scarlett Johansson: Sure. We understand you're a professional person.
MTV: Can you live up to that billing here and now?
Samuel L. Jackson: We'll see.
Johansson: Sure. We'll give it a shot.
MTV: The villains you portray in "The Spirit" are not exactly at the top of their game.
Jackson: I'd say there is damage. My character is flawed. He's a genius, but whatever he injected into himself demented him. [He gestures to Johansson.] She's perfectly fine. She just allows him to have his flights of fancy. She is biding her time until she eventually takes over, because she knows the nuts and bolts of the operation.
Johansson: These are her humble beginnings. She's young but she's learning.
Jackson: She's loyal to a fault.
Johansson: I don't think she's particularly loyal. I just think she's like ...
Jackson: I'd like to think you're dedicated.
Johansson: Sorry! Yes, she is very dedicated. Absolutely dedicated. She is 100 percent dedicated.
MTV: I'm picking up on some tension.
Johansson: There's no tension there.
Jackson: She's just crossed the line of authority. It's OK for her to think she's in charge, but it's not OK for her to make me think she thinks she's in charge.
Johansson: Thank God I'm there to pick up the pieces. That's all I can say. The operation is a disaster without me.
[Jackson glares at her.]
Johansson: What?!? It's true. You know it's true.
MTV: Come on guys. Let's get along.
Johansson: Look at that glare! Don't glare at me!
MTV: Scarlett, Frank Miller told me he especially tailored the part to you after seeing how funny you were. What is going on in these meetings with people like Frank and Woody Allen that convinces them you are so great?
Johansson: Just monthly installments of $19.99 each. I have purely just paid my way [to the top].
MTV: Sam, I've never seen a villain laugh so maniacally as this one you play.
Jackson: It's about the joy. The glee in what you do and how you do it. Hearing the joke that no one else hears.
Johansson: I like that — the joke that no one else hears.
Jackson: That's a good song.
MTV: Speaking of singing, I have two singers sitting here. When are you two going to collaborate on a song?
Johansson: We're going to be doing a variety show. It's slated for the new year.
Jackson: We want to do one whole CD that's dedicated to singing "A Letter to Daddy."
Johansson: Yes. We both love that song.
Jackson: So much so that we've decided to do it in different styles. Reggae ...
Johansson: We have a trip-hop version. We're breaking boundaries.
MTV: In all seriousness, Scarlett, are you planning to continue with your music?
Johansson: I would love to do another album. Yeah. I don't think I'd do covers, so it'd be a project that I have to dedicate myself to. I feel like that's something for the future.
MTV: Are either of you planning on attending the inauguration?
Johansson: Oh yeah. We're going to be performing our version of "Letter to Daddy" after U2.
MTV: We know you have someone's e-mail address. ...
Johansson: Oh, no. I'm banned now from using my e-mail address, thanks to the media.
MTV: Are either of you asking Frank about being in "Sin City 2"?
Johansson: I'm just campaigning to do the catering for "Sin City 2."
Jackson: I'm trying to get him to release our Western from his brain. He says he has it in his head but he won't give it to us.
Johansson: We don't want him to work on anything else until he's finished on our Western.
Check out everything we've got on "The Spirit."
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