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Scarlett sues author over image

Paris, May 14: Scarlett Johansson is suing for £41,000 in damages the author and publisher of a novel that features a character who closely resembles her.

The American actress claims that La Première Chose qu’On Regarde (The First Thing We Look At) violates her privacy and constitutes a “fraudulent and illicit use of her name, her fame and her image” for commercial gain — allegations the book’s publisher has dismissed as “crazy”.

According to Vincent Toledano, the 28-year old actress’ lawyer, the bestselling work by Grégoire Delacourt, published in March last year, also contains “defamatory claims about her private life”.

Johansson is demanding that the author and JC Lattés, the publisher, pay damages and interest and is seeking an injunction to stop it being adapted for cinema.

“The freedom of expression that she defends as an artist is not in question,” said the actress’s lawyer. “Such activities for purely mercantile ends have nothing to do with creativity,” he said. Anne Veil, lawyer for the author and publisher, said such allegations were “totally scandalous”.

“This is a literary, not commercial, approach. She has not been used as a product,” said Veil. “Grégory Delacourt is not a paparazzo, he’s a writer!”

The heroine of La Première Chose qu’On Regarde is Janine Foucamprez, a small-time model from northern France whose life is blighted by her resemblance to Johansson.

Women are jealous of her, men see her as a sex object, and she ends up dying in a car crash. The first part of the novel is told through the eyes of a garage mechanic who “resembles a better version of Ryan Gosling” and thinks Johannson has turned up on his doorstep, leading readers to believe that the work may be about the actress.

But the illusion is shattered and “for the rest of the novel no one can be any doubt that it is about Jeanine Foucampez,’ said Emmanuelle Allibert, spokeswoman for JC Lattès.

 
 
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