Grégoire Delacourt is the saddest Frenchman in the world. He wrote a book that is not about Scarlett Johansson, and Scarlett Johansson took him to court for it.
Delacourt told Le Figaro that he chose to include Johansson in his novel because she worked as a stand-in for today’s archetype of female beauty, and that using her name allowed him to make a statement about the way modern romantic fantasies are affected by the pervasiveness of celebrity culture. But, he stressed, his heroine was decidedly not meant to actually be Scarlett Johansson. (Delacourt also told the newspaper that he thought the actress had probably not read the book, which has not been translated into English.)
For his part, Delacourt is “stupified,” saying, ”I wrote a work of fiction. My character is not Scarlett Johansson…I thought she might send me flowers as [the book] was a declaration of love for her, but she didn’t understand it at all. It’s a strange paradox – but a very American one.”
I can’t tell you how much this simple, misinformed man tears at my heart! He wrote a French novel featuring a Scarlett Johansson lookalike, and he hoped Scarlett Johansson herself might send him flowers as a token of appreciation.
I cannot help but picture it: this man who has never married, who lives in a building of decaying dignity in a once-grand neighborhood, who enjoys a cup of chocolate, hot, at four in the afternoon. He writes a neat little book about a beautiful woman.
Perhaps Scarlett Johansson will send me flowers, he thinks as he checks his change drawer to see if he has enough money to buy cigarettes today. She will not want to meet me, of course — that is hoping for too much — but perhaps she will be amused, and a little touched, and she will send me a batch of flowers that she herself has picked out. Perhaps she will tell her assistant No, I will pick the flowers out myself, for the French man who understands me. Perhaps she will even use the phone to call me and tell me how much she appreciated my book, my little absurd gift.
Because Delacourt’s book used Johansson as an archetype of physical beauty, he thought she would enjoy it; he thought she might “get in contact to ask me to go for a coffee.”
It had arrived, hadn’t it? He had thought most carefully about the direction. Scarlett Johansson. Hollywood L.A. America. How could it not have arrived? Anyone who read those words would know for whom the package was meant.
Perhaps she was reading it even now. Perhaps she was thinking of how best to thank him for his little tribute — nothing really, simply a polite touch of the cap delivered in her direction, simply the acknowledgement a beauty like hers was due — and was even now signing personally, with her own hand, a charming note of thanks. Perhaps no one before had told her she was beautiful, and she would be moved by his words.
Perhaps she was making ready to call him right now.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.