Scarlett Johansson: my Scottish hell

The star’s new movie Under the Skin was shot in Glasgow and the Highlands, but the actress was not overjoyed with the location

Lost in Translation actress Scarlett Johansson likened one Scottish forest to “hell” at The Venice Film Festival yesterday in an interview about her new movie Under the Skin. “It was cold and wet and terrifying,” said Johansson to The Guardian. “It was like Scotland was trying to spew us out.”


Shot on Scotland’s chilly beaches, in the wild Highlands and in Glasgow’s urban city centre, by director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast and Birth), Under the Skin follows an alien called Isserley who lures locals into her van and harvests their organs – a delicacy on her planet. It’s an almost silent sci-fi horror; it’s dark, moody and uncomfortable viewing and, interestingly, much of it is shot with hidden cameras in Glasgow city centre.

Visit the wild Scottish Highlands with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details

Johansson wore a black wig while shooting, so she wasn’t immediately recognisable as she went into shopping centres, nightclubs and walked through public streets in the town centre.

The footage captures the real reactions from Glaswegians. One particular scene was shot on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street. “It’s an amazing scene, where my character falls over,” explained Johansson, who seemed baffled with the public’s reaction.

“The reactions were always different. Some people would stop and help, others would just look, and some took pictures on their camera-phones and then just carried on going. It was a very strange experience.

“…we blurred the lines between reality and fantasy.”

The film has received a mixed response from critics. The audience was divided at Venice on the day, many booed during the credits, while others have given Under the Skin a five star rating.


Visit the wild Scottish Highlands with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details