If I was casting Fox Searchlight’s Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, I would never choose the buxom, thick-lipped Scarlet Johansson to play the thin-lipped, somewhat rigid-mannered Janet Leigh, as announced earlier today in a Variety story.
There’s a reason Leigh was a star from the early ’50s to early ’60s — it was a generally uptight, conformist, buttoned-down era, and Leigh’s cautious look and vibe fit right into that. She wasn’t Anna Magnani or Sophia Loren or Gloria Grahame. She was large-boobed, but she was basically Miss (or Mrs.) White Picket Fence. Her face didn’t move a muscle in The Vikings.
And if Johansson had been time-machined back to the early ’50s she would have never made it as a big-league actress. At best she would have been the tart, the cigarette girl — Barbara Nichols in Sweet Smell of Success. Conversely Leigh probably wouldn’t have found much success if she’d begun in the mid to late ’90s. Correct and cautious wouldn’t have made it in the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky blowjob era.