Scarlett Johansson at 35: Recounting the Past and Looking Forward to the Future
Sat, April 17, 2021

Scarlett Johansson at 35: Recounting the Past and Looking Forward to the Future

Even if an actor is the most talented and smartest, there are more ways for a movie to fall short than succeed and oday, Scarlett Johansson is experiencing exactly this / Photo by: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

 

Even if an actor is the most talented and smartest, there are more ways for a movie to fall short than succeed, wrote Chris Heath of Vanity Fair, a magazine on popular culture, fashion, and current affairs. Hence, it’s rare when “project after project clicks seamlessly into place.” Today, Scarlett Johansson is experiencing exactly this. Earlier this year, she starred in “Avengers: Endgame,” a film that became the highest-grossing movie of all time. Johansson is also set to come back in “Black Widow,” her standalone movie.

Alternatively, her performances in two recent, smaller-scale movies namely “Marriage Story,” a relationship drama, and Nazi-era comedy “Jojo Rabit” drew acclaim as the former made Johansson a contender for best actress. This has left Johansson feeling proud and uneasy. At a photo studio in New York, she said, “I worked really hard for a really long time. So maybe this is the result of that.”  

Johansson’s Life and Career 

The 35-year-old said she has been working for about 25 years. Johansson was nine-years-old when she starred in her first movie, “North.” By 13, she was in “The Horse Whisperer,” where she portrayed a young amputee, according to Biography, a site dedicated to publishing biographies of notable people. Johansson’s role won many fans, including the film’s star and director. Co-star Robert Redford commented she was “13 going on 30.” 

Johansson, then 18, had a breakthrough role in “Lost In Translation,” launching her adult career. She also collaborated with Brian De Palma on “The Black Dahlia” (2006), a crime thriller. She also dipped her toes into comedy with “The Nanny Diaries” (2007). 

In 2010, Johansson played Black Widow in the film “Iron Man 2,” opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke. The movie became one of the summer’s big blockbusters, setting the stage for the actress to star in other movies in the Marvel Cinematic World. She also appeared as Black Widow in box-office smash hit in “The Avengers” (2012). 

Johansson continued to appear in other Marvel movies such as “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014), “Avengers: The Age of Ultron” (2015), “Avengers: Infinity War’ (2015), and “Avengers: Endgame” (2019). Johansson’s role in the franchise “proved highly lucrative” as she rose to the top spot in Forbes’ ranking of the highest-paid actresses in the world in the summer of 2018. 

But life is not always easy for the actress. Johansson stated, “Over that time, my feelings towards work, it’s ebbed and flowed. At times I felt like I couldn’t get anything that was substantial or that felt challenging to me.”

Right now, there has been a shift in Johansson’s priorities. As a mother to five-year-old daughter Rose, she is now in a good phase in her career where she can “wait for stuff that’s right.” In the past, Johansson acknowledged she was more concerned with the visibility and exposure she would get in her career. 

“Marriage Story” and Divorce

“Marriage Story” writer-director Noah Baumbach explained that he was writing a story about a divorce a few years ago. Coincidentally, Johansson was also going through a divorce with her second husband, Romain Dauriac. Johansson acknowledged that her own life experiences were helpful. She said, “I had some kind of shared experience with the character, or with any person going through a divorce, really.” In her performance in “Marriage Story,” Heath stated there is a “new kind of power and low-key realism” in Johansson’s role in the film that portends the next phase of her career. 

She got married to Ryan Reynolds at 23 years old. Johansson admitted that she romanticized the idea of marriage / Photo by: Dick Thomas Johnson via Wikimedia Commons

 

Heath asked Johansson how different she thinks her performance might have been if she hadn’t gone through a divorce. She replied, “What would have been different is if I hadn’t been a mom. That was actually more valuable to me than the experience of going through a divorce.”Johansson never went through the kind of divorce that was shown in the movie. A part of “Marriage Story” is about the system of divorce, but that was more of Noah’s experience than hers. 

Speaking of marriage, Johansson had this idea of building a family, making a family, and having it work. “I think that would be wonderful. I’ve always wanted that,” she added. She got married to Ryan Reynolds at 23 years old. Johansson admitted that she romanticized the idea of marriage. But right now, the 35-year-old is in a different phase in her life as she can now make more active choices and even thinks she is “more present” than ever before. 

Baumbach praised Johansson’s honesty and “present-ness,” calling them a “kind of fearless precision.” 

Johansson’s Thoughts On “Black Widow” 

Johansson said she did not want “Black Widow” to be an origin story or an espionage story. In fact, she did not want the movie to feel superficial at all. She stated, “I only wanted to do it if it actually fit where I was with that character.” 

Johansson spent years “peeling those layers away,” adding “I felt that unless we got to something deep, then there was no reason to make it.” 

The actress’s life has not been not easy. Despite that, Johansson rises to the challenge by focusing more on the present and elevating the superhero genre with “Black Widow” to empower people to talk about self-doubt, insecurity, shame, disappointment, and the like.

Johansson said she did not want “Black Widow” to be an origin story or an espionage story. In fact, she did not want the movie to feel superficial at all / Photo by: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons