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Scarlett Johansson wants to make sure she doesn't 'phone it in' as the Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson wants to make sure she doesn't 'phone it in' as the Black Widow

Plus: More on 'Winter Soldier' and 'Under the Skin'

Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow, is back and, trust us, Scarlett Johansson isn't complaining about it.  The 29-year-old ingenue is playing the super spy with a dark past for the third time and in the third different franchise in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," Johansson actually has another movie opening on April 4 (although in limited release), Jonathan Glazer's acclaimed mini-masterpiece "Under the Skin" The two movies could no be more different from each other if you tried.  "Winter Soldier" is a superhero thriller with political undertones to modern day concerns over the NSA.  "Skin," on the other hand, is one of the most daring art films to challenge audiences this century.  

Asked if she considers movies like "Skin" (and to a lesser extent "Her") a break from big studio productions, Johansson insists her work in the Marvel universe isn't that different from an art house indie.

"I have the good fortune of in this Marvel Universe of working with actors I've always admired and actors I've known for a along time," Johansson says. "Sam Jackson this is our fourth film together. Chris Evans this is also our fourth film together. I've known Chris for over 10 years. Rob Redford I worked together when I was 12 on 'The Horse Whisperer.' And it's funny, Sebastian and I were on Broadway at the same time. In some ways, these Marvel movies feel huge, it's not that different from making a smaller more intimate film."

"Skin" (which was no. 2 on my top 10 of 2013 following its Telluride Film Festival premiere) finds Johansson as an alien construct who starts to emotionally connect with the humans she's hunting and harvesting. The character is far from the now snarky Avenger The Black Widow (it's been a growing personality trait for Natasha).  Instead, "Skin" finds the actress delivering an almost completely silent performance unlike anything she's ever even attempted before.

"That experience was absolutely out of this world and really wild and really unique," Johansson says of "Skin." "It will always be with me because it was also such as stretch for me. I pushed myself into all sorts of discomfort. But, [with the Black Widow] you want to up the ante with each one of these installments so you're not tired to watch and you're not just phoning it in and the character continues to be interesting and enigmatic."

In "Winter Soldier," Romanoff teams up with Steve Rogers, aka the Star-Spangled Super Soldier (Evans), to try and stop S.H.I.E.L.D [REDACTED] from launching a satellite system that will kill anyone it believes could be a threat based on a computer's analysis personal information. At one point in the story, Romanoff has to decide if she can live with fighting for the greater good even if it means details of her clandestine and killer past will be revealed in public. So, no, the only female Avenger (currently) doesn't get off easy.  It goes without saying that Marvel has secret plans for many of its characters, but Johansson said the idea for Widow to star in the sequel to "Captain America: The First Avenger" didn't come about until she was doing promotion for "The Avengers" two years ago.

"[Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige and I] just talked a lot about it and what would bring these two characters together. They seem to be on opposite ends of the moral spectrum. We just don't want to bring these characters together [just] because we can," Johansson reveals. "What is their working relationship like? What do they bring out of one another? we realized they are kind of similar. Unexpectedly these two characters are a lot more like each other than the other Avengers, probably besides Hawkeye. Even though Hawkeye and Widow have this great past. They are similar are the surface, but different types of people. [On the other hand,] Cap and Widow are both really reluctant superheroes. They got in this game without a choice. They also ave this hunger to discover the truth. They may be part of the lie and Widow may be more willing to be part of that than Cap, but at the same time they don't want to be lied to."

Johansson ends with the intriguing thought that, "It's interesting to see these two characters that put up these walls.  Once you start chipping away at them that they actually have something in common."

For more on Johansson's opinions of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Under the Skin" watch the embedded video at the top of this post.

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" opens nationwide and in IMAX on April 4.  "Under the Skin" opens in limited release on April 4.

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Drew Carey & Craig Ferguson are swapping jobs for April Fool’s Day

Drew Carey & Craig Ferguson are swapping jobs for April Fool’s Day
Carey will host “The Late Late Show” and Ferguson will host “The Price is Right” on April 1.


“The Americans” is stumbling into timeliness
The situation in Ukraine has made the FX Cold War drama very relevant. As Matthew Gilbert notes: "Suddenly, in only a few months, 'The Americans' has gone from being a record of a dark time in our relations with Russia to something a lot more germane and fraught. The show is now charged with all kinds of complex subtext about the present tense, about how brutal and  hate-filled a Cold War can actually be beneath the icy attitudes.”


Check out Ben McKenzie as Det. Jim Gordon filming “Gotham”
McKenzie was spotted filming shooting scenes in Brooklyn.


Why “Veronica Mars” should make a movie sequel
The film showed that an adult Veronica could actually work. PLUS: A “Veronica” sequel would work even better without all the celebrity cameos, and what was up with all “The Big Lebowski” references?


“The Walking Dead” boss explains why he did it
Scott M. Gimple says he pitched Robert Kirkman the story, "and he was like, 'That’s awesome!' Which was exciting because I was really nervous, because you want to honor the source material and I wanted him to be excited about it and he was. Beyond that, I wasn’t really that worried about AMC. I know they have faith in us. This was not a story that was sensational. We weren’t exploiting anything.” PLUS: “Walking Dead” deserves more respect, was the shocker a mistake?, the show reached a new level of brutality, and this season has been boring.


“Grimm” hands out a role to a University of Michigan student
Executive producer Jim Kouf was on campus speaking to a screenwriting class, when he decided to hold an impromptu audition. The result: Senior Jacqueline Toboni has been cast in the role of “Trubel."


CNN ratings soar with coverage of missing Malaysian plane
Of all the cable news networks, CNN is covering the mystery the hardest as it tries to find a sustainable business model.


Go behind the scenes of “SNL’s” Biblical Movie “Girls” parody
It took more than 24 hours to complete the set.


Jimmy Kimmel will have a “Divergent” star on each of this week’s shows
The guest list will include “Divergent’s” Tony Goldwyn, who will stop by Kimmel as part of “Scandal Thursdays.”


“Deadwood” alum Kim Dickens joins “Mad Men’s” Kevin Rahm on CBS’ “Red Zone”
They’ll co-star opposite Anthony LaPaglia and Samantha Mathis on the CIA drama.


Good riddance to “HIMYM’s” Glen McKenna
Why the fake Scotch brand is totally stupid.


Michael Vartan: “I was told absolutely nothing” about my “Bates Motel” role
“Literally,” he says, "until the third or fourth episode, he didn’t have a last name, he didn’t have a profession, (I) didn’t really know if he was a good or a bad guy. So it was kinda fun to go into it with literally no expectations.”


Patton Oswalt does a “True Detective” spoof
Watch him recreate Rust Cohle’s interrogation scene.


Tyler Perry’s "The Single Moms Club” bombed at box office, but OWN won’t quit with its TV remake
“Single Moms” was Perry’s worst-performing movie opening.


New “Transformers” cartoon to feature Ted McGinley and Darren Criss
Constance Zimmer and Will Friedle will also lend their voices to “Transformers Prime.”


"Little People, Big World” star Jeremy Roloff gets engaged
The young Roloff son got engaged days after his parents announced their separation.


NYC mayor, an “intense fan” of “The Good Wife,” had “a blast” filming his cameo
“It took two or three takes,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “They were surprised at how quickly I could get to over-the-top obnoxious.”


“Bones” creator: We’ll use our series finale ending for Season 10, even if we return for Season 11
Says Hart Hanson: "The series ender we have in mind, we keep bumping off because the series doesn't end, but I suspect that we will have to end season 10 that way. And if we do come back for an 11th season or more, we'll have to do some reinvention of the series to last that long. If not, we'll be ok for one more season with the ending we have in mind.”


Has “Scandal” become too soapy?
Last week’s episode was too insane.


“Shameless” has proved to be a comforting show
"There’s no high concept, no period details nor flashy twists,” says Andy Greenwald, and that’s what makes it so great.


How “Bob’s Burgers” comes up with its Burger of the Day names
Creator Loren Bouchard explains the elaborate process for creating the perfect burger name.


“Next Top Model” judge sued for alleged assault of a male model
Rob Evans is accused of beating up model Landry Macedo, which resulted in Evans’ arrest.


Listen to Gwyneth Paltrow sing Pharrell’s “Happy” for “Glee”
The song will be part of Episode 100.


“Portlandia” releasing an activity book
See a preview of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s book, out Tuesday.


“Teen Mom” Farrah Abraham releases her 1st music video
Check out “Blowin.’”


“Bachelor” alums Jesse & Ann Csincsak welcome a daughter
It was the 2nd child for the reality TV alums.

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<p>Barney and the gang outside the wedding festivities on &quot;How I Met Your Mother.&quot;</p>

Barney and the gang outside the wedding festivities on "How I Met Your Mother."

Credit: CBS

Review: 'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Gary Blauman'

A wedding crasher inspires a trip back and forth in time for Ted, the Mother and the gang

A quick review of tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as we work on the fat guy table...

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<p>Kelis at the NPR showcase at Stubb&#39;s</p>

Kelis at the NPR showcase at Stubb's

Credit: NPR

South By Southwest Superlatives: Music and movies' best in show

Coathangers, dancing, 'The Mule,' Jodorowsky and fashion tips from Betty Who

Now that we've caught up on sleep and let the ringing from our ears cease, Drew McWeeny and I got our thoughts together to go over some of the bests and bizarre-est from from this year's South By Southwest music and film conference in Austin.

Despite having to leave a couple days early this time around (thus, missing out on half the music-side), I still managed to see more than 30 bands in two-and-a-half days. I enjoyed many of the films, including and especially "Only Lovers Left Alive" and "Before I Disappear," for this ninth year in a row at the festival, I'll always have my heart set and open for the hundreds of bands that make the tough trek into the chaos that is 6th street and appended.

In the gallery below, I outline some of the acts that left the biggest impression on me, including The Coathangers, Les Claypool, Kelis, Charli XCX, High Tension, and more. Read on for Drew's account of sitting with Alejandro Jodorowsky, watching "The Mule" and having a close-to-very-awkward moment.

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Sia

Sia channels Rihanna in new single, 'Chandelier'

Maybe she wants some diamonds for herself

Sia, who penned “Diamonds,” released her new song, “Chandelier” today. If you liked Sia for her quirky solo material or for her vocals with Zero 7, this is a whole different kettle of fish.   Her voice is heavily processed on the verses as she does her best Rihanna imitation.

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Nick at Nite cancels Scott Baio’s 'See Dad Run'

Nick at Nite cancels Scott Baio’s “See Dad Run"
The current Season 3 of the family sitcom will be its last.


Katharine McPhee to star in CBS’ “Scorpion”
The “Smash" and “Idol” alum will play a diner waitress who understands geniuses. PLUS: Judith Light joins "The Winklers," and Rachel Dratch joins "Dead Boss."


Chris Colfer to pen a “Glee” episode
Ryan Murphy asked Colfer, who’s already an author, to write an episode.


“The Daily Show’s” Jason Jones” to star in “Love Is Relative” on NBC
Should the comedy pilot get picked up, Jones would leave “The Daily Show” after nine years.


Bill Engvall and his family are getting a reality show
The comedian, who starred on "The Bill Engvall Show” on TBS with Jennifer Lawrence, has a docuseries in the works.


“Banshee” gets Cinemax’s largest audience for an episode
The Season 2 premiere was watched by 733,000 viewers.

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<p>What&#39;s this? A YA movie without a love triangle? Call the cliche police immediately!</p>

What's this? A YA movie without a love triangle? Call the cliche police immediately!

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Review: 'Divergent' succeeds largely due to Shailene Woodley and Theo James

Casting is incredibly important when you're trying to build a franchise

Somewhere between "The Hunger Games" and "Twilight" lies "Divergent," Neil Burger's adaptation of Veronica Roth's novel, and while I think there are some weird issues with the film, there are enough things it does right that I think it's a pretty safe bet we'll see Roth's entire series play out on film in the next few years.

At what point are we going to stop with the weird non-descriptive "Young Adult" label for these movies? What's wrong with the genre labels that already existed? "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent" strike me as similar in many ways, but "young adult" doesn't suggest anything about what you'll actually see in the film.  They're science-fiction films with young casts. They create alternate worlds or alternate histories, and they are more than willing to reach for the big metaphor.

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<p>Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse took some time to talk about fandom, cable versus broadcast, and &#39;The Strain&#39;</p>

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse took some time to talk about fandom, cable versus broadcast, and 'The Strain'

Credit: HitFix

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse on the enduring popularity of 'Lost'

Plus Cuse discusses his upcoming Guillermo Del Toro series 'The Strain'

Before last night's PaleyFest "Lost" panel began, there was a red carpet where we took our chances to try to talk to some of the people who showed up for the reunion.

I'm not great on the red carpet, and last night was a reminder of all the things that drive me crazy about the process. They put you in a space that isn't big enough for one person, let alone a reporter and a cameraman, and there's a horrifying feeding frenzy mentality that kicks in once the first person starts working their way down the line. Elbows get thrown, manners disappear, and people get aggressive about everything.

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Metallica

Hear Metallica's new thrasher 'The Lords of Summer'

Band debuts tune on tour in Bogata

Metallica unveiled a new song, “The Lords of Summer,”  on tour in Bogata, Colombia Sunday night and it’s a lightweight ditty about sand between your toes and gentle beach breezes… Not….

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ABC Family renews 'Melissa & Joey' and 'Baby Daddy,' orders 3 drama pilots

ABC Family renews “Melissa & Joey” and “Baby Daddy,” orders 3 drama pilots
The latest additions to the ABC Family lineup include: "Alice in Arabia," "Recovery Road" and "Unstrug."


Esquire orders “Lucky Bastards” starring “The Bachelor” Prince Lorenzo Borghese
The reality show from the producers of “Real Housewives” will follow Prince Lorenzo and his five pals as they work and live in NYC.


“Lindsay” producers had to help pay for Lindsay Lohan’s rent, security deposit, broker’s fee
Apparently, Lohan is broke, but the OWN reality show isn’t telling just how broke she is.


“Fruitvale Station” star Melonie Diaz joins HBO’s “Laughs Unlimited”
She’ll play a Sacramento cop who just returned from active duty as an Army Reserve medic in Afghanistan. PLUS: Danny Huston joins NBC’s “Salvation."


Pivot Network to show the Peabody Awards
The Millennial-targeting network will also show primetime specials on this year’s honorees.

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Angus T. Jones, wearing a long scruffy beard, says he was a 'paid hypocrite' on 'Two and a Half Men'

Angus T. Jones, wearing a long scruffy beard, says he was a “paid hypocrite” on “Two and a Half Men”
"I was a paid hypocrite because I wasn't OK with it and I was still doing it.” Jones told a Houston TV station after a visit to the city’s World Harvest Outreach Church on Saturday.


“The Office’s” Brian Baumgartner will play a killer on “Criminal Minds”
He’ll guest-star as a serial killer on the CBS drama.


Jimmy Fallon recalls Will Ferrell’s “crazy eyes” during “SNL’s" famous “More Cowbell” sketch
“I saw the eyes of a crazy person,” he recalled to James Franco during a “Tonight Show” commercial break. PLUS: Cecily Strong is working on a new Weekend Update sign-off.


Mindy Kaling to drive a NASCAR pace car
She’ll lead the Auto Club 400 this weekend in Fontana, California.


NFL is now demanding rapper M.I.A. pay $16.6 million for her Super Bowl middle finger
The NFL was originally asking for $1.5 million, but now the league wants more because it thinks she got $15.1 million in free exposure from the incident.


“Party Down South” stars end their standoff for a raise, agree to return for a 2nd season
The CMT stars were reportedly demanding a 1,400% pay raise from the $500 an episode they were receiving for Season 1.


Hannah’s book editor was blindsided by his “Girls” death
John Cameron Mitchell, who played Hannah’s book editor, found out about it during the read-through. "Afterwards Lena (Dunham) was like I’m so sorry I forgot to tell you,” Mitchell recalls. "I really felt like a Voodoo doll. I felt a pin in my heart, like 'Oh, shit.' It was a weird feeling.”


CMT to air Jeff Dunham’s animated “Achmed Saves America”
This will be the comedian’s first animated special.


Queen Latifah headed to “Hot in Cleveland”
She’ll play the aunt of Betty White’s City Council rival.


Melissa McBride reacts to last night’s "Walking Dead"
"I don't think there was really any other option,” she says.


Madonna dresses up as "Game of Thrones'" Khaleesi
"Happy Purim!!!!!!" she wrote on Instagram. "All Hail All Queens! ##certainty"

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William Shatner to star in 'The Shatner Project' home renovation show

William Shatner to star in “The Shatner Project” home renovation show
The DIY network show will have cameras will follow the 82-year-old as he and his wife renovate their house. “This is like a dramatic show with a revelation at the end,” he says, adding: “There’s conflict and there’s tension, and characters evolve.”


“Lost” boss: "No, no, no. They were not dead the whole time”
That was the biggest answer (from co-executive producer Carlton Cuse) to the biggest “Lost” question at last night’s Paleyfest. PLUS: See Maggie Grace & Ian Somerhalder reunited and more pictures of the cast, and Walt is all grown up.


“American Horror Story” will have a “Carnival” theme next season
“It doesn’t have a title, but that’s the idea,” writer Douglas Petrie confirmed in a podcast


Savannah Guthrie announces she’s married and pregnant
The “Today” co-host revealed this morning she tied the knot over the weekend.


“The Simpsons” creates a “Downton Tabby” spoof
The Fox cartoon used “Itchy & Scratchy” to mock “Downton Abbey.”


“Resurrection” still going strong despite 19% drop, “Crisis” has a promising debut
The launch of “Crisis” nearly tied “Revenge” in the key demo.


Oprah is selling her Harpo Studios for $33 million
The Chicago studio was home to “The Oprah Winfrey Show” from 1990 to 2011.

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