'Earring' helmer followed Japanese filmmaking pathos

“Girl With a Pearl Earring” stars Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth chatted up the oft-wordless pic following its unspooling Dec. 11 in the Variety Screening Series. Thesps said filming was fun despite the pic’s somber mood.

“Very often it’s the opposite,” Firth said. “You make a very serious film and it’s one of the grimmest places to be.”

Helmer Peter Webber said the chaste yet highly charged scenes of physical contact between painter Johannes Vermeer and his servant were inspired by Japanese films.

“I like the way that Asian cinema makes very intimate moments into something epic,” Webber said. “That’s what we had to do. The big moment was a finger moving a quarter of an inch.”

“That finger moving a quarter of an inch was a big deal for the both of us,” Johansson joked. “Well, it was good for me, anyway.”

Pete Hammond moderated the Q&A sesh at the Pacific Galleria Stadium 16 in Sherman Oaks.

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