“Voluptuous.” “Attractive.” “Sex bomb.” These are just some of the descriptions that have been used to describe American actress Scarlett Johansson. Even Woody Allen – who directed Johansson in three movies – called the then 19-year-old star of Match Point (2005) “sexually radioactive.”
Now, at the age of 37, Johansson has spoken out about feeling “hypersexualized” as a young actress.
“I kind of became objectified and pigeonholed in this way where I felt like I wasn’t getting offers for work for things that I wanted to do,” the actress explained in the podcast Armchair Expert, hosted by Dax Shephard and Monica Padman. “I think everybody thought I was older and that I’d been [acting] for a long time, I got kind of pigeonholed into this weird hypersexualized thing.”
In the nearly two-hour long interview, Johansson discussed how accepting several roles in which she played naive women made her even more typecast, and she feared that this would damage her long-term career.
“I felt like [my career] was over. It was like: that’s the kind of career you have, these are the roles you’ve played. And I was like, ‘This is it?’”
After a career as a child actor, Johansson shot to fame when she starred in Sofia Coppola’s film Lost in Translation (2003), alongside Bill Murray. She played some form of seductress in many movies, before she took on more powerful roles. In 2019, she was simultaneously nominated for two Academy Awards for her work in Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit.
During her podcast, the star of Black Widow (2021) wanted to convey a message of hope to rising female stars, such as Zendaya and Florence Pugh. “Things have changed a lot,” she said, referring to how Hollywood studios treat female actresses today, although she admits that there is still a lot of work to be done.
“I see younger actors that are in their 20s, it feels like they’re allowed to be all these different things,” said Johansson, who is the mother of two children: eight-year-old Rose Dorothy and one-year-old Cosmo.
Johansson also spoke about how, after the #MeToo era, she sometimes felt trapped between two worlds.
“We had our mothers who were like, ‘Use whatever you can to get the thing you need. Use your feminine wiles. Use your sexuality,’” she shared. “And then there’s our generation, I think that’s done that and also [said], ‘This doesn’t feel right, there’s gotta be some other way.’ And there’s the younger generation of women who are like 15 years younger than me, who are like, ‘You don’t have to take any of that crap. No pandering.’”
Her upcoming project is a British film called My Mother’s Wedding, which also Sienna Miller and Emily Beecham. It marks the directorial debut of actress Kristin Scott Thomas.