In Harvard Yard just before noon today (Feb. 15), there was ice, slush, wind, a 2-degree wind chill – and there was Scarlett Johansson.
The 22-year-old actress, at Harvard to be feted as Hasty Pudding’s Woman of the Year, set off on a 15-minute tour ready for the cameras, though not for the weather. She was hatless, all the better to show her bundled high vivid blond hair and sparkling small earrings. With gloveless hands tucked into her sleeves, Johansson defied winter in a waist-length black jacket, pipe stem black slacks, and narrow black shiny flats.
Leading the tour was Hasty Pudding player J. Patrick Coyne ’07, a Quincy House history and literature concentrator from Cleveland. Outside Harvard Hall, near Johnston Gate, Johansson had two questions for him first: “Why wasn’t my application accepted? Where can I apply to a graduate program?”
Passing Hollis Hall, the husky-voiced actress confessed, “I have a feeling my SAT scores wouldn’t cut it,” – but that her mother was still telling her it was not too late for a college degree. (“Thanks, Mom,” she said.)
With six Hasty Pudding members gathered around her, and a gaggle of media in front and behind, Johansson also confessed to her first butterflies of the day. “I’m nervous,” she said. “Should I be?” Then answered her own question: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
On the steps of the Memorial Church in the New Yard, gazing over at Widener Library, Johansson marveled at the 5 million books there, and thanked Coyne for explaining what a “bibliophile” is. Back in the Old Yard, in front of the statue of John Harvard, she remarked on the shiny brass left boot, then looked up. “Nice looking fellow,” said Johansson.
On the walk past Weld Hall, then past Grays Hall and Wadsworth House, the star of “Lost in Translation” did a walk-along interview with a television crew. The puddles and snow piles and icy patches got more frequent. Another confession: She wasn’t really dressed for the weather. “I was thinking mild. Maybe mid-60s,” said Johansson. “All I knew was: I was supposed to wear pants.” The black flats, she admitted, “will never make it through the winter.”
A few minutes from the end of the chilly walking tour, she pronounced it “fantastic, I have to say – the closest I’ll ever get to a Harvard education.” Though if she were a student at Harvard, Johansson said she’d use the time to study something outside her expertise right now – “like political science,” she said.
“Do I feel at home at Harvard?” said Johansson, a few feet from Mass. Ave. and a sheltering room in the Holyoke Center. “Yes, maybe for the next few days, I do.”
The day also featured an open-car parade and a roasting when she received the traditional Pudding Pot at the Agassiz Theatre. She felt “honored by my peers,” she said of Harvard’s oldest theatrical group.