Scarlett Johansson case opens against French author

Scarlett Johansson in Beijing, China (24 March 2014) Scarlett Johansson is seeking 50,000 euros (£41,000) in damages from Gregoire Delacourt

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A court case has opened in France against author Gregoire Delacourt over claims that one of his characters defames US actress Scarlett Johansson.

Ms Johansson claims La premiere chose qu'on regarde (The First Thing We Look At) makes "fraudulent use of her name, fame and image" for commercial gain.

In addition to damages, she has sought an injunction to stop the book from being translated or adapted for cinema.

Mr Delacourt and his publisher have dismissed the allegations as "crazy".

Their lawyer called the legal action "totally scandalous".

"This is a literary, not commercial, approach," said Anne Veil. "She has not been used as a product. Gregory Delacourt is not a paparazzo, he's a writer."

'Defamatory'

The US star sued Mr Delacourt and his publisher JC Lattes last June, after the author described the heroine of his novel as Ms Johansson's "doppelganger".

The actress has demanded 50,000 euros (£41,000) in damages, with her lawyer, Vincent Toledano, arguing that the bestselling book also contained "defamatory claims about her private life".

It features amorous relationships that "never existed", he said, adding: "It does what the tabloids do, it says anything."

Judges at the tribunal in Paris are expected to issue their ruling in early July.

The work, which was published in March 2013, is centred on model Jeanine Foucamprez who bears a striking resemblance to Ms Johansson.

The first part of the novel is told through the eyes of a garage mechanic convinced that the famous film star has turned up on his doorstep.

But that illusion is quickly shattered and "for the rest of the novel no-one can be any doubt that it is about Jeanine Foucamprez", according to Emmanuelle Allibert, a spokeswoman for JC Lattes.

"We have never known anything like it," she said.

"It is all the more surprising for the fact that the novel is not even about Scarlett Johansson. It is about a woman who is Scarlet Johansson's double. This writ seems crazy to us."

Mr Delacourt is considered one of France's most successful modern writers.

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