Scarlett Johansson is an American actress and singer. Best known for her role as Black Widow in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, she is one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood. She has also featured several times on the Forbes Celebrity Top 100 list. Her acting got her various accolades, including a Tony Award and a British Academy Film Award. She has also been nominated for two Academy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards.
She is often labeled as a sex symbol by the news media. Directors like Woody Allen and David Fincher often considered her to be attractive and sexually overwhelming. She lost the role of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because Fincher found her ‘too sexy’ for the character. Popular fashion magazine Maxim included her in their Hot 100 list from 2006. She has been named “Sexiest Woman Alive” twice by Esquire magazine. Before her success as a prominent movie actress, she began her career as a stage performer.
Born as Scarlett Ingrid Johansson on November 22, 1984, she always aspired to be an actress. She practiced acting by staring in the mirror till she makes herself cry, wishing to be Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis.
She enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and started auditioning for commercials. Later she shifted her focus to the theatre, making her debut on stage, appearing in the Off-Broadway play Sophistry with Ethan Hawke. Here she had only two lines.
She made her film debut as the daughter of John Ritter in the fantasy comedy North. She later played minor roles in Fall and Home Alone 3. She was noticed by a larger audience for her performance in Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer.
From a very early age, she started experimenting with her characters. By appearing in films like the neo-noir, The Man Who Wasn’t There, directed by the Coen brothers, and Terry Zwigoff’s black comedy Ghost World. In the latter, she played a cynical outcast, which became her breakthrough performance.
With films like Lost in Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring, she transitioned into more mature roles. After these, she was considered to be the most versatile actress of her generation. Her film career followed with The Prestige, Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, He’s Just Not That into You, and many more.
Emergence As Marvel’s Black Widow
Johansson in 2010, was first seen as Black Widow in Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2, thus entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). For her role, she dyed her hair red and took rigorous strength-based training to look the part.
For Avengers, she learned some Russian from a former teacher. This 2012 release received positive responses from both audiences and critics.
Critically Accepted Roles
After being associated with Marvel, she also continued doing other films which played with different genres. In the romantic comedy-drama Don Jon she was seen as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s girlfriend. Written and Directed by Gordon-Levitt himself, he mentioned specifically writing the character keeping Johansson in mind. Critics hugely appreciated her role in Don Jon.
Johansson in 2013, voiced Samantha, an artificially intelligent virtual assistant, in Spike Jonze’s film Her. It was rated as one of the best films of 2013. The film starred prominent actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, and Chris Pratt. Johansson’s voice acting gathered her several awards and nominations.
In Jonathan Glazer’s science fiction film Under the Skin, she played an extraterrestrial creature who preys on men in Scotland. The project took nine years to complete. For this role, she learned to drive a van and communicate with an English accent. The critics called it one of her finest performances. She won the Best Actress award at BIFA.
Big Budget Movies
Other than her association with the MCU, she also starred in several big-budget movies, some of which were blockbusters during their release.
Johansson played a supporting role in the film Chef, with Robert Downey, Jr., Sofía Vergara, and director Jon Favreau. It was well received by the box office.
She played the title character, in Luc Besson’s science fiction film Lucy. The film became the 18th highest-grossing film of 2014.
Johansson also featured in Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, which received critical acclaim. In Jon Favreau’s live-action adaptation of Disney’s The Jungle Book, she voiced Kaa.
Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, opposite Adam Driver and Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, got Johansson her first two Academy Award nominations, for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively.
Black Widow Controversy
In 2021, she reprised her role as Black Widow in her own solo prequel film, on which she also was an executive producer. Also starring Florence Pugh, David Harbour, and Rachel Weisz, the film is set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, and shows Black Widow on the run and is forced to confront her past.
Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney claiming that the release of Black Widow on their streaming service Disney+ breached a clause in her contract. The film was supposed to get an exclusive theatrical release. Disney+ exempted her from receiving an additional bonus from box-office profits, to which she was entitled. To this, Disney said her lawsuit showed an indifference to the COVID-19 pandemic effects.
Later Disney was criticized for falsely portraying Johansson as insensitive to the effects of the pandemic, attacking directly on her character. Later during September, both parties resolved their dispute, with the settlement terms remaining undisclosed.
Overall Johansson has always been a philanthropist. She has supported various charitable organizations, including Aid Still Required, Cancer Research UK, Stand Up To Cancer, and several others. She became a global ambassador for the aid and development agency Oxfam in 2005. She collaborated with 300 women in Hollywood in 2018, to set up the Time’s Up initiative. This helped protect women from harassment and discrimination. Therefore Johansson as an actress and a human being has contributed a lot to acting and society.