From Starlet to Superstar
Scarlett Johansson is the world’s highest paid actress, raking in over $14 billion worldwide at the box office throughout her lifetime. She has perfected her acting craft from a very young age and has since starred in some of the most successful films like Avengers: Endgame, Marriage Story, and Jojo Rabbit.
Johansson began acting at a very young age, landing her first movie role at 9-years-old in the movie North (1994). She was born in Manhattan, New York to a Danish architect father and a Jewish producer mother and both were supportive of her dreams to become an actress. She often put on music and dance shows for her family around the house and took tap dance lessons as a child. She studied acting at the Professional Children’s School (PCS), where child actors go to improve their skills. It wasn’t long before she landed her first notable role in Manny and Lo (1996); she played the lead role of Amanda, the younger sister of a pregnant teen who runs away from her foster home. Two years later in 1998, she wowed crowds in The Horse Whisperer, and was nominated for the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Actress.
It wasn’t until 2001 that Johansson landed her actual breakthrough role in Ghost World. Although it didn’t do well at the box office, it garnered a cult status and even awarded her a Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 2003, her career began to soar to new heights with director Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation. Johansson was only 18 at the time but took on the role of someone older, playing Bill Murray’s lonely wife. The film was a huge success—it was made with $4 million but went on to reel in $119 million at the box office. Her acting was praised in various publications and Coppola even compared her to a young Lauren Bacall. That same year she also graced the screen for Girl with a Pearl Earring, where she played Griet, a young 17th-century servant in the household of the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. Her performances in both Lost In Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring earned her two Golden Globe nominations and she even won a BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for Coppola’s film.
At this point, Scarlett had become a rising actress that was quickly showing the world how serious she took her craft, and people were definitely noticing. One of those people was famous director Woody Allen, who would go on to cast her in three of his films. She starred in Match Point (2005), Scoop (2006), and Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008). These movies helped to push her star directly into the spotlight—working with Woody Allen is a definite way to get noticed in Hollywood thanks to his legacy. Johansson picked up another Golden Globe nod for Match Point and received acclaim for her work in the other two Allen films as well.
After two years, Johansson would land the role that would change her life forever: Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow. She had developed an interest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after watching Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man (2008). “I just loved it. I’d never really seen anything like it before. It was not particularly that I was a fan of superhero stuff, or that genre, but it seemed groundbreaking. And I wanted to work with Marvel. It seemed like an exciting place to be,” she said.
She decided to set up a meeting with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and director Jon Favreau and it turned out that they were searching for an actress to play Natasha Romanoff in the next Iron Man film, Iron Man 2. She auditioned for the role but unfortunately wasn’t selected; Favreau chose Emily Blunt for the part instead. However, a few weeks later, she received a call back—it turned out she had gotten the chance to play Romanoff after all! Emily Blunt couldn’t accept the role due to scheduling issues. “I was super excited about it. And I met with Jon again, and we had a funny conversation about how he had not cast me. But I was excited. I was so stoked,” she said.
In 2010, Iron Man 2 hit the box office with Scarlett playing Natasha Romanoff for the first time. The movie collected nearly $624 million worldwide. With Johansson now in the MCU, she would secure the hefty paychecks for years to come, boosting her star status to world-famous simultaneously.
Her acting wasn’t the only thing keeping her busy during this time. In Scarlett’s personal life she had her hands tied as well! She became engaged to Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds—who is coincidentally also part of the MCU as anti-hero Deadpool—in May 2008 and married in September 2008. She was 23-years-old when they got married, and years later, she admits it may have been a bit rushed. The couple ended up getting divorced not too long after in July of 2011. “I didn’t really have an understanding of marriage,” Johansson said. “Maybe I kind of romanticized it, I think. It’s a different part of my life now. I feel like I’m in a place in my life, I feel I’m able to make more active choices. I’m more present, I think, than I’ve been before.” That wasn’t Johansson’s only relationship, though. Two years later in September of 2013, she became engaged to Frenchman Romain Dauriac, the owner of an advertising agency. The two were madly in love and even had a child together. Johansson’s only child, Rose, was born in 2014. Unfortunately, that relationship didn’t work out either and the two had divorced by September 2017.
While going through her divorce, she was approached by writer-director Noah Baumbach, who had her in mind for a role in an upcoming film he was pitching to Netflix. It was called Marriage Story and followed the story of a couple quickly disintegrating into an ugly divorce. Baumbach had no idea what Johansson was personally going through at the time and when she informed him, he was shocked. “It totally caught me off guard,” Baumbach said. “I was like, ‘Well, you’re going to either hate this idea or love it. This may be exactly not the headspace you want to be putting yourself in, or maybe it will be healing.’” It turns out that the experience proved healing for Johansson, who decided to challenge herself and take the role anyway despite the personal issues she was facing in her life.
In Marriage Story, which arrived on Netflix on December 6th, 2019, Johansson plays Nicole Barber alongside Adam Driver, who stars as her husband. It shows a marriage breaking apart as the two try to keep their family together for the sake of their son. The movie garnered lots of critical praise for the two actors’ dramatic and masterful performances. It even earned Johansson her first Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role!
2019 was incredibly fruitful for the stunning actress, who also starred in the mega blockbuster Avengers: Endgame as her recurring role as Natasha Romanoff. The film made history as the highest-grossing movie ever, finally knocking James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) from the title. It made a total of $2.796.2 million worldwide and $858.3 million domestically. And although Johansson’s character dies in the film, she’s glad that it was an honorable death. Natasha Romanoff ends up leaping off a cliff to save the world and in doing so also preserves the life of her potential love interest, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). It’s one of the most surprising and emotional scenes in the whole film. “The finality of it was sad, but I was excited to die with honor… It felt in-character that she would sacrifice herself, of course for humanity but actually for her friends, for the people she loves,” Johansson shared.
A third win in 2019, Scarlett also starred in Jojo Rabbit, a satirical dark comedy that takes place during Nazi-era Europe. The movie was at the center of plenty of award show buzz and ended up allowing Johansson to secure her second-ever Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. The film was nominated for five other Oscars and won one for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Scarlett Johansson is clearly unfazed by the intense amount of work that was put into all three films as she is set to be back on the silver screen yet again! The female-fronted Black Widow film, which allows fans to get a deeper look into Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow’s character before her death, was supposed to release in May 2020 but was postponed due to coronavirus. Now it has a November 6th, 2020 release date. She’s also set to star in Sing 2, a sequel to the animated comedy Sing (2016), where she will act alongside Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon.
By Selene Rivera