Everybody loves Scarlett Johansson. But one man loves her that little bit more. His name is Arthur Dreyfuss, and he's a 20 year old mechanic living and working in a small village in France. He also happens to be the fictional character at the centre of the controversial new novel The First Thing You See by French author Grégoire Delacourt.
Who the hell is Grégoire Delacourt?
That's Mr. Delacourt, looking so utterly French it's surprising that he's not got a pain au chocolat in his bouche, and this is the blurb on the back of the novel:
Imagine you are a young mechanic living in a small community in France. You own your own home, and lead a simple life. Then, one evening, you open your front door to find a distraught Hollywood starlet standing in front of you. This is what happens to Arthur Dreyfuss in the village of Long, population 687.
"The First Thing You See" is a warm, witty novel about two fragile souls learning to look beyond the surface - for the first thing you see isn't always what you get!
Although the premise is kind of interesting, and the book has sold a ton of copies in its homeland, Delacourt rather brazenly included a series of allegations about Johansson's private life, not least that she embarked on a series of affairs, which caught the attention of the real Scar Jo who, understandably, is pretty pissed about the whole thing. Furthermore, the book used her name to generate hype, and would probably not have been a success if not for her popularity.
But when her defamation lawsuit went before the French courts this summer, they ruled that she should be awarded a truly pathetic €5,000 in damages and legal fees (that's less than $6,000, and probably less than what her lawyers charge for a day's representation). The court did, at least, demand that Delacourt remove the parts about the affairs from the final copy of the book, at which the author bizarrely expressed some surprise.
Box office receipts and Olympic-sized pay cheques
Not that Scar Jo needs the money, obviously. In the year 2013-2014, she brought home a fairly respectable $17m pre-tax, which is more than your entire family will earn in a lifetime, unless you've got a really big family or you're reading this from a sun lounger in the Hamptons. In the twelve months 2014-2015, her total income was an incredible $35.5m, thanks largely to the massive successes of [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) and Lucy at the box office, with the two films earning $2bn combined. Nowadays Scarlett banks around $10m in advance per blockbuster - only Jennifer Lawrence earns more, with $52m in her incomings in the last year.
But her considerable wealth doesn't negate the fact that Johansson has the right to feel defamed by a book which, quite clearly, trades on her name to sell. Perhaps if Mr. Delacourt had been a little more open about this and seeked her permission in advance, rather than claiming the novel as a "love letter" to Scarlett Johansson and feigning surprise that she didn't "send flowers" (a poisoned rose might work), she wouldn't have felt compelled to call in the lawyers. It's just a shame the French courts were so damn laissez faire about the whole thing...
But Scarlett could still have the last laugh - here's how...
If Johansson fancies a taste of sweet revenge (seasoned, of course, with French herbs and garlic), she should basically just do this:
- Set up a small production company under an anonymous name
- Buy the rights to a movie adaptation for a minimal sum of around $50k
- Make the film and play the lead role
Scarlett Johansson playing a French woman putting on an American accent to take advantage of the fact that she looks quite a lot like Scarlett Johansson? It sounds super-meta. I'd be stoked to see that movie. And the icing on the French fancy would be seeing the film dominate at the French box office, lining Scarlett's pockets whilst Monsieur Delacourt earns a grand total of rien.
That's nothing, btw.
What's your take on the controversy? Does the book defame Scarlett Johansson, or should she be happy with her millions? Would you go see this movie? Vote in the poll and leave a comment...