Scarlett Johansson (born November 22, 1984) is an Danish-American actress, model and singer. She made her film debut inNorth (1994) and was later nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for her performance in Manny & Lo(1996), garnering further acclaim and prominence with roles in The Horse Whisperer (1998) and Ghost World (2001). She shifted to adult roles with her performances in Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) and Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003), for which she won a BAFTA award for Best Actress in a Leading Role; both films earned her Golden Globe Award nominations as well.
A role in A Love Song for Bobby Long (2004) earned Johansson her third Golden Globe for Best Actress nomination. Johansson garnered another Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress with her role in Woody Allen’s Match Point (2005). She has played the Marvel comic book character Black Widow/Natalia Romanova/Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2 (2010) and The Avengers (2012), and is set to reprise the role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).
The 2010 Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge won Johansson the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play. As a singer, Johansson has released two albums, Anywhere I Lay My Head and Break Up.
Johansson is also considered one of Hollywood’s modern female sex symbols, and has frequently appeared in published lists of the sexiest women in the world, most notably when she was named the “Sexiest Woman Alive” by Esquire magazine in both 2006 and 2013 (the only woman to be chosen for the title twice), and the “Sexiest Celebrity” by Playboy Magazine in 2007.
Scarlett Johansson was born in New York City on November 22, 1984. Her father, Karsten Johansson, is a Danish-born architect originally from Copenhagen, and her paternal grandfather, Ejner Johansson, was a screenwriter and director. Her mother, Melanie Sloan, a producer, comes from an Ashkenazi Jewish family from the Bronx. Sloan’s ancestors emigrated to New York from Minsk, Tsarist Russia. She has an older sister, Vanessa, also an actress; an older brother, Adrian; a twin brother, Hunter (who appeared with her in the film Manny & Lo); and an older half-brother, Christian, from her father’s first marriage.
Johansson grew up in a household with “little money”, and with a mother who was a “film buff”. She and her brother, Hunter, attended P.S. 41 in the upper-middle-class Greenwich Village neighborhood, in Manhattan, for elementary school. Johansson began her theatrical training by attending and graduating from Professional Children’s School in Manhattan in 2002.
Johansson began acting during childhood, after her mother started taking her to auditions. She made her film debut at the age of 9, as John Ritter’s daughter in the 1994 fantasy comedy, North. Following minor roles in the 1995 film Just Cause, as the daughter of Sean Connery and Kate Capshaw, and If Lucy Fell in 1996, she played the role of Amanda in Manny & Lo (1996). Her performance in Manny & Lo garnered a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Female, and positive reviews, one noting, “[the film] grows on you, largely because of the charm of … Scarlett Johansson”, while San Francisco Chronicle critic Mick LaSalle commentated on her “peaceful aura”, and wrote, “If she can get through puberty with that aura undisturbed, she could become an important actress.”
After appearing in minor roles in Fall and Home Alone 3 in 1997, Johansson garnered widely spread attention for her performance in the 1998 film The Horse Whisperer, directed by Robert Redford. She received a nomination for the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Actress for the film. In 1999, she appeared in My Brother the Pig and in 2001 in the neo-noir Coen brothers film The Man Who Wasn’t There. Also in 1999, she appeared in the music video for Mandy Moore’s single, “Candy”. Although the film was not a box office success, she received praise for her break-out role in Ghost World (2001). Credited with “sensitivity and talent [that] belie her age”, She won the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for the Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 2002, she appeared in Eight Legged Freaks.
Transition to Adult Roles
Johansson made the transition from teen roles to adult roles, with two roles in 2003. In the Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation, she played Charlotte, a listless and lonely young wife, opposite Bill Murray. Roger Ebert wrote that he loved the film and described the performances of Johansson and Murray as “wonderful.” Entertainment Weekly wrote of Johansson’s “embracing, restful serenity,” and the New York Times said, “At 18, the actress gets away with playing a 25-year-old woman by using her husky voice to test the level of acidity in the air … Ms. Johansson is not nearly as accomplished a performer as Mr. Murray, but Ms. Coppola gets around this by using Charlotte’s simplicity and curiosity as keys to her character.” Johansson won the BAFTA Award and the Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. She received nominations from a number of film critic organizations, including the Broadcast Film Critics Association, and the Chicago Film Critics Association.
At age 18, Johansson played Griet in Peter Webber’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. While noting, “Audiences feel as if they are spying on a moment of artistic inspiration when painter Vermeer creates the title work”, USA Today praised her, suggesting, “[She] is having a banner year that Oscar voters should recognize.” In his review for the New Yorker, Anthony Lane said, “What keeps Webber’s movie alive is the tenseness of the setup … and, above all, the presence of Johansson. She is often wordless and close to plain onscreen, but wait for the ardor with which she can summon a closeup and bloom under its gaze; this is her film, not Vermeer’s, all the way.” Owen Gleiberman, forEntertainment Weekly, wrote of her “nearly silent performance”, observing, “The interplay on her face of fear, ignorance, curiosity, and sex is intensely dramatic.” She was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She was nominated by the London Film Critics’ Circle, the Phoenix Film Critics Society.
Johansson was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in June 2004. The same year, she had voice or onscreen roles in five films: the The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie; A Good Woman, an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, which had a limited U.S. release, and was both a box office and critical failure, described by the New York Times as a “misbegotten Hollywood-minded screen adaptation” with “an excruciating divide between the film’s British actors (led by Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Campbell Moore), who are comfortable delivering Wilde’s aphorisms … and its American marquee names, Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson, [who have] little connection to the English language as spoken in the high Wildean style”; the critically panned teen heist film, The Perfect Score, the romantic comedy In Good Company, a critical and box office success; and, finally, the dark, Southern drama, A Love Song for Bobby Long, for which she earned her a third Golden Globe for Best Actress nomination.
In July 2005, Johansson starred, with Ewan McGregor, in Michael Bay’s science fiction film, The Island, in dual roles as Sarah Jordan and her clone, Jordan Two Delta. The film was a commercial failure and received mixed critical reviews. In contrast, her role as Nola, the American actress with whom Chris (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is obsessed, in the Woody Allen-directed drama Match Point, was well received. The New York Times said, “Ms. Johansson and Mr. Rhys-Meyers manage some of the best acting seen in a Woody Allen movie in a long time, escaping the archness and emotional disconnection that his writing often imposes.” Mick LaSalle, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, said, “[Johansson] is a powerhouse from the word go”, and, “[Her performance] borders on astonishing.” Johansson received her fourth Golden Globe nomination, and one from the Chicago Film Critics Association, for Best Supporting Actress.
In another collaboration with Allen, she was cast opposite Hugh Jackman and Allen in the 2006 film, Scoop. While the film enjoyed a modest worldwide box office success, it received mixed reviews by critics. The same year, she appeared in Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia, a film noir shot in Los Angeles and Bulgaria. Johansson later said she was a De Palma fan and had wanted to work with him on the film, even though she thought that she was “physically wrong” for the part.
Johansson next had a supporting role in the Christopher Nolan thriller The Prestige (2006), again opposite Hugh Jackman, as well as Christian Bale. Nolan, who described Johansson as possessing an “ambiguity… a shielded quality”, said he was “very keen” for her to play the role. Johansson said, “[she] loved working with [Nolan]”, and he was “incredibly focused and driven and involved, and really involved in the performance in every aspect.” The film was both a critical and a worldwide box office success, recommended by the Los Angeles Times as “an adult, provocative piece of work.” Also in 2006, Johansson starred in a short film directed by Bennett Miller and set to Bob Dylan’s “When the Deal Goes Down…”, released to promote Dylan’s album, Modern Times.
Johansson starred in 2007’s The Nanny Diaries, alongside Laura Linney. The film performed only marginally well at the box office, and was critically panned. Johansson’s reviews were mixed, with Variety saying, “[She] essays an engaging heroine”, while The New Yorker criticized her for looking “merely confused” while “trying to give the material a plausible emotional center”.
In 2008, she starred in The Other Boleyn Girl, with Natalie Portman and Eric Bana, a film which garnered mixed reviews. Writing forRolling Stone, Pete Travers criticized the film for “[moving] in frustrating herks and jerks”, but was more positive in his assessment of Johansson and Portman, and wrote, “What works is the combustible teaming of Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, who give the Boleyn hotties a tough core of intelligence and wit, swinging the film’s sixteenth-century protofeminist issues handily into this one.” Varietycredited the cast as “almost flawless … at the top of its game”, citing “Johansson’s quieter Mary … as the pic’s emotional center, her tender love story with the conflicted monarch evoking the only genuine feelings on display.”
She filmed her third Woody Allen film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, in Spain, appearing opposite Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz. The film was one of Allen’s most profitable and appeared on many critics’ top ten lists of the best films of 2008.
Johansson played the femme fatale Silken Floss in Frank Miller’s film noir, comedy adaptation of The Spirit. The film, described as “a great-looking movie with an awkward balance of pulp noir and campy self-awareness” and “style without substance, style whirling in a senseless void”, received mostly poor reviews.
Johansson appeared in the role of Anna, a yoga instructor, in the 2009 ensemble cast of He’s Just Not That into You, with Jennifer Connelly, Bradley Cooper, Drew Barrymore and Kevin Connolly. The film was a box office success but only gained average critical reception. The San Francisco Chronicle review notes, “[The film] never soars, but it never flags” yet lauds Johansson, saying, “She has become a deft comic actress.” The Los Angeles Times calls the film an “anti-romantic romantic comedy” and cites the scenario in which Johansson appears with Jennifer Connelly and Bradley Cooper as having “more meat than others”, making it “one of the best.” The Baltimore Sun criticized the film, but praised Johansson for “proving she doesn’t need Woody Allen to be funny.”
Appearing at San Diego Comic-Con on July 26, 2009, Johansson joked about her audition for the film, saying it consisted of “a couple of deep knee bends and lunges”, but Favreau credited her with performing her own stunts: “All the fighting and wire work is her own. She worked really hard and it shows on the screen.” Iron Man 2 was a box office success and received mostly positive reviews from critics. In 2011, Johansson played the role of Kelly, a zookeeper in the family film We Bought a Zoo. The film gained mainly favorable reviews. Calvin Wilson of St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote that Johansson “brings to Kelly just the right blend of spunkiness and hard-won maturity.” Johansson reprised the role of Natasha Romanoff in The Avengers in 2012. The Avengers received positive reviews and was highly successful at the box office, becoming the third highest-grossing film both in the United States and worldwide.
In November 2010, she was cast in the film adaptation of Michel Faber’s novel Under the Skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer, appearing in a role which required full frontal nudity. In November 2011, it was reported she plans to make her directional debut by adapting Truman Capote’s novel, Summer Crossing whose screenplay will be written by playwright Tristine Skyler. Production on the film is slated to begin in the first half of 2014. In early March 2012, it was announced that Johansson had been cast as Janet Leigh in the Sacha Gervasi-directed film Hitchcock, a behind-the-scenes drama about the making of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho. Released in November 2012, Hitchcock received mixed to positive reviews. Roger Ebert wrote that Johansson “as Janet Leigh, doesn’t look a lot like the original but projects her spunk, intelligence and sense of humor.”
In 2012, Johansson was cast in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, Don Jon. The film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and had its wide release in September 2013. Don Jon received positive reviews. Johansson’s performance was praised by critics; Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote that “Johansson, fearlessly tackling a role with sharp edges, is dynamite” while Claudia Puig of USA Today stated that she “gives one of her best performances as the bossy, gum-chewing Jersey girl”. Also in 2013, Johansson voiced the character Samantha, an intelligent computer operating system, in the Spike Jonze film Her. She replaced Samantha Morton in the role. The film received critical acclaim upon release with Johansson’s performance being well-received among critics.
Johansson’s next project will be reprising her role as Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, alongside frequent co-star Chris Evans as the title character. Her involvement was confirmed in October 2012.
Johansson made her first stage appearance in the Off Broadway play Sophistry. In January 2010, following previews that began December 28, 2009, Johansson made her debut on Broadway, as Catherine Carbone in the drama A View from the Bridge, written by Arthur Miller and directed by Gregory Mosher. Liev Schreiber played opposite her. Johansson won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her role in the play. Her win received some backlash from critics and seasoned Broadway actors who felt she was undeserving of the award.
Johansson starred as Maggie in a Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof beginning January 17, 2013. Her performance received mixed reviews from critics. Thom Geier, writing for Entertainment Weekly, wrote, “Scarlett Johansson brings a fierce fighting spirit to Maggie the Cat in director Rob Ashford’s languorous revival … Johansson shows a winning determination – to lure back her husband, to defend their share of his family’s fortune, to maintain a sometimes shaky Southern accent.” On the other hand, reviewer Joe Dziemianowicz (The Daily News) called her performance “alarmingly one-note”.
Johansson has appeared in advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein, L’Oréal and Louis Vuitton, and has been the face of Spanish brand Mango since 2009. After appearing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala with Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Johansson was announced as the face of the new Dolce & Gabbana make-up collection in early 2009. She made a personal appearance at the London store, Selfridges, on July 31, 2009, to help launch and promote the line. Johansson was also the first Hollywood celebrity to become an ambassador for a Champagne House, after she became the spokesperson for Moët & Chandon and appeared in various advertisements and events for the brand. In January 2014, the Sodastream home-carbonation system announced Johannson as its first brand ambassador.
In 2005, Johansson was considered for the role of Maria in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End revival of The Sound of Music, though the role ultimately went to newcomerConnie Fisher (winner of the BBC talent show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?) Released on May 8, 2006, Johansson sang the track “Summertime” forUnexpected Dreams – Songs From the Stars, a non-profit collection of songs recorded by Hollywood actors. She performed with The Jesus and Mary Chain for a specialCoachella Reunion Show in Indio, California in April 2007.
In 2007, Johansson appeared as the leading lady in Justin Timberlake’s music video, for “What Goes Around… Comes Around”, which was nominated in August 2007 for video of the year at the MTV Video Music Awards. In mid-2007, she spent about a month in Maurice, Louisiana recording an album at Dockside Studio. The album, consisting of one original song and ten cover versions of Tom Waits songs, was produced by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio and features David Bowie, members from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Celebration. Released on May 20, 2008, it was entitled Anywhere I Lay My Head. Reviews of the album were mixed, or average. Spin commented, “There’s nothing particularly compelling about Scarlett Johansson’s singing.” Conversely, some critics found it to be “surprisingly alluring”, “a bravely eccentric selection”, and “a brilliant album” with “ghostly magic”. The album was named the “23rd best album of 2008” by NME and peaked at No.1 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart and No. 126 on the Billboard200 chart. Of her album, Johansson said, “I had this golden opportunity to record and thought I would do maybe an album of standards, because I’m not a songwriter. I’m a vocalist.” Johansson said for her recording she “wanted to have space and [she] wanted to be in a remote place where all of us could just be ourselves and not worry about anyone trying to listen in or get in on that.” Johansson said in an interview that she started listening to Tom Waits when she was 11 or 12 years old. Of Tom Waits, Johansson said in an interview, “His melodies are so beautiful, his voice is so distinct and I had my own way of doing Tom Waits songs.” In December 2008, MTV reported Johansson planned to follow-up Anywhere I Lay My Head with an album of all original music, saying, “I don’t think I’d do covers, so it’d be a project that I have to dedicate myself to. I feel like that’s something for the future.”
In 2009, Johansson covered Jeff Buckley’s “Last Goodbye” for the soundtrack of He’s Just Not That into You. Released on September 8, 2009, she and singer/songwriter Pete Yorn recorded a collaborative album, Break Up, inspired by Serge Gainsbourg’s duets with Brigitte Bardot.
In 2010, Steel Train released Terrible Thrills Vol. 1, which includes their favourite female artists singing songs from their self-titled album. Johansson is the first artist on the album, singing “Bullet”.
In 2011, Johansson sang “One Whole Hour” for the soundtrack of the documentary film Wretches & Jabberers.
In 2012, Johhanson added her voice to a J. Ralph track entitled “Before My Time” to the end credits of the climate documentary Chasing Ice. The song received a nomination from the Academy Awards in the “Best Original Song” category.
Johansson has frequently appeared in published lists of the sexiest women in the world. She has been described as a “peerless sex symbol” by Channel 4, Johansson appeared on the cover of the March 2006 issue of Vanity Fair in the nude alongside actress Keira Knightley and fashion designer Tom Ford. Maxim named Johansson No. 6 in their Hot 100 Issue in 2006, No. 3 in 2007, No. 2 in 2008, No. 34 in 2009, No. 14 in 2010, No. 14 in 2011, No. 17 in 2012 and No. 15 in 2013. In November 2006, Johansson was named “Sexiest Woman Alive” by Esquire. In February 2007, she was named the “Sexiest Celebrity” of the year byPlayboy. FHM has regularly ranked her as one of their 100 sexiest famous women since 2005. During the filming of Match Point, director Woody Allen described Johansson as “sexually overwhelming”, saying that he found it “very hard to be extra witty around a sexually overwhelming, beautiful young woman who is wittier than you are.” In 2010, GQ named Johansson its Babe of the Year. In 2011, Men’s Health named her one of the “100 Hottest Women of All-Time”, ranking her at No. 12.
Johansson celebrates a “little of both” Christmas and Hanukkah, and has described herself as Jewish.
Johansson dislikes the “ScarJo” nickname commonly used in reference to her, calling it “awful” and “terrible”.
On September 14, 2011, the FBI announced it was investigating the alleged hacking of Johansson’s cell phone and the dissemination of nude photographs of her. Johansson said the photos had been sent to her then-husband, Ryan Reynolds, three years prior to the incident. As a result of the investigation, Christopher Chaney of Jacksonville, Florida pleaded guilty to computer hacking. In addition to a prison sentence for Chaney, prosecutors are requesting that he pay Johansson about $66,000 in compensation.
From 2001–02, while Johansson attended the Professional Children’s School, she dated classmate Jack Antonoff, who went on to become the guitarist for the band Fun. She dated her Black Dahlia co-star Josh Hartnett for about two years until the end of 2006, with Hartnett citing their busy lives as the reason for the split.
Johansson began dating Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds in 2007 and in May 2008 it was announced that they were engaged. On September 27, 2008, the couple married in a quiet ceremony near Tofino, British Columbia. They purchased a $2.8 million home together near Los Angeles. On December 14, 2010, the couple announced their separation. Their divorce was finalized on July 1, 2011.
In 2005, Johansson became a Global Ambassador for the aid and development agency Oxfam. In March 2008, a UK-based bidder paid £20,000 on an eBay auction to benefit Oxfam, winning a hair and makeup treatment, a pair of tickets and a chauffered trip to accompany Johansson on a 20-minute date to the world premiere of He’s Just Not That into You.
In January 2014, Johansson resigned from her Oxfam position after facing criticism for her promotion of SodaStream, whose main factory is based in Ma’aleh Adumim, anIsraeli settlement in the West Bank, as Oxfam opposes all trade with Israeli settlements. Johansson said she and Oxfam “have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement”. In response to her resignation, Oxfam stated that it was “grateful for her many contributions … [in] helping to highlight the impact of natural disasters and raise funds to save lives and fight poverty”.
Johansson is registered as an independent and campaigned for Democratic candidate John Kerry in the 2004 United States presidential election. About George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection, she said, “[I am] disappointed. I think it was a disappointment for a large percentage of the population.”
Johansson also campaigned for Democratic candidate Barack Obama: Her efforts included appearances in Iowa during January 2008, where her efforts were targeted at younger voters; an appearance at Cornell College; and a speaking engagement at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota on Super Tuesday, 2008. Johansson appeared in the 2008 music video for The Black Eyed Peas front man will.i.am’s song, “Yes We Can”, directed by Jesse Dylan, a song inspired by Obama’s speech following the 2008 New Hampshire primary. On February 7, 2012, Johansson and Anna Wintour hosted a fashion launch of pro-Obama clothing, bags and accessories, with proceeds going to the President’s re-election campaign. She addressed voters at the Democratic National Convention on September 6, 2012, calling for President Obama’s reelection and for more engagement from young voters.
Johansson publicly endorsed and supported Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s 2013 run for New York City Comptroller by hosting a series of fundraisers.