Scarlett Alice Johnson Interview
Actress Scarlett Alice Johnson was a regular fixture in homes across the UK thanks to her role as Vicky Fowler in EastEnders. She’s currently making her film debut as Lexi in the upcoming Adulthood, sequel to the award-winning Kidulthood. Here she talks with View London’s Matthew Turner about accents, rude lines and hanky panky.
Sorry to mention EastEnders immediately. You had quite a tough time on EastEnders, from the critics. This is a completely different role - do you hope that it will blow the critics away?
Scarlett Alice Johnson (SJ):
God, that is quite a tough start! No, this is utterly different, in every way. I've always said that I'd rather have a reaction rather than no reaction to every character I play, so I make a conscious effort not to pick very generic characters. Nine times out of ten you get passed on scripts where it's just like the daughter or the wife, especially as a female actor, obviously, that can be really frustrating.
The thing that I love about this character and about this film is that it's completely specific. It's a very specific subculture, it's a very specific language, she has a very specific physicality, everything. It's just so far from being generic. Which is great, it's such a good tool as an actor to really narrow down the person you're playing.
Talking of accents, it seemed to me that you, or rather the character, modified her accent depending on who she was talking to. Was that right?
Yes. It's more of a colloquialism rather than an accent, so obviously she's aware of what she's doing. So when she's speaking to someone, she'll slightly vary her speech, so she'll speak differently to her boss than she will to, say, her dealer. But I'm glad you picked up on that!
Was that something that came from you or from Noel's direction?
No, that was written in the script. The words in the script really dictated how I was going to say them and that was there right from the start.
Were you a big fan of the first film? And was it daunting to come in and play against the character who had dominated the first movie?
I was very aware of Kidulthood, I'd actually bought the DVD. I'd also met Noel about three years before the first audition, so I wasn't particularly nervous coming into join it, because it was a nice thing to come into the second instalment of one big story.
Do you have a favourite scene in the film?
That's quite hard. I think, in the beginning of the film, there's a scene where Lexi first meets Sam and they're just talking and she's got her back up completely. She's at her most abrasive because I think she's quite insecure and quite nervous and she doesn't quite know how to react to him. She probably fancies him a little bit, but in that scene she's Lexi at her most raw, her most Lexi-ish, if you like.
And she has some great one-liners, she's got such a dark sense of humour. And there's one line that I can't repeat as it's slightly rude, but that just made me crack up. So that's my favourite scene, not in terms of the filming but in terms of the script, I just think it's brilliant.
You have, not a sex scene, but a bit of hanky-panky in the film – how was that to film?
Ha ha! Everyone phrases it in different ways. Hanky-panky, intimacy, love. It was fine. Obviously, Noel has been with this project from start to finish so I felt very confident that I was never going to arrive on set and things had changed, I would suddenly be topless or wearing, I don't know, something on my nipples. I knew what it was going to entail.
I've always felt very strongly that I would never do any kind of sex scene, or any kind of nude scene, in fact, unless it was absolutely necessary in the script. And this is not a gratuitous sex scene anyway, I think it's quite an honest portrayal of that slightly awkward, initial fumbling sort of thing. I'm very pleased with it.