PARIS – Scarlett Johansson is seeking to avenge the unauthorized use of her name in a French novel in a suit filed against publisher JC Lattes. She’s seeking compensation and damages from the “breach and fraudulent use of personal rights,” as well as a ban on “future transfer of rights and adaptations of the book.”
In the novel The First Thing We Look At, a woman shows up at the door of a mechanic in the northern village of Somme seeking help. At first the mechanic believes she is ‘Scarlett Johansson,’ though sixty pages later it is revealed she is not the actress but simply a doppelganger named Jeanine Foucaprez.
Author Gregoire Delacourt told newspaper Le Figaro that he was “stunned” when he was informed of the suit Friday morning, and also noted that he compared the main male character to Ryan Gosling and his boss to Gene Hackman in the book as an almost immediate way to invoke recognition of characteristics for readers.
“This corresponds with the fantasies of our times. All these famous people live with us,” he said, noting that many personal details of Johansson’s love life have been revealed on the Internet and the public feels as if it knows her. “But I wrote a book of fiction. My character is not Scarlett Johansson, it is Jeanine Foucaprez!”
He describes the novel as an exploration of the “dictatorship of appearances and the true beauty of women,” and says he chose Johansson, currently the face of Dolce & Gabbana and previously Louis Vuitton, because she is considered the “epitome of beauty today.”
The First Thing We Look At has been a best-seller in France since its release on March 20.