Scarlett Johansson (born November 22, 1984) is an American actress and singer.
Johansson made her film debut in North (1994) and was later nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for her performance in Manny & Lo (1996). She rose to further prominence with her roles in The Horse Whisperer (1998) and Ghost World (2001). She transitioned 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.
A role in A Love Song for Bobby Long (2004) earned Johannson a 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 went on to star in two further Allen movies: Scoop (2006) and Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008). Johansson has appeared in other successful films, such as Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (2006) and the summer blockbuster Iron Man 2 (2010)
The 2010 Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge gave Johannson some of her best reviews for her acting, and she received a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play. On May 20, 2008, Johansson debuted as a vocalist on her first album, Anywhere I Lay My Head, which comprises mostly cover versions of Tom Waits songs. Her second album, Break Up, with Pete Yorn, was released in September 2009.
Johansson was born in New York City on November 22, 1984. Her father, Karsten Johansson, is a Danish-born architect, 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.Johansson has an older sister, Vanessa, who is 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 Greenwich Village in 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 nine years old, 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 the 2001 film, Ghost World. Credited with “sensitivity and talent [that] belie her age”, Johansson went on to win 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, Johansson appeared in the comedy-horror thriller Eight Legged Freaks, starring David Arquette.
Transition to adult roles
Johansson made the transition from teen roles to adult roles, with two such roles in 2003. In the Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation, she played Charlotte, an abandoned 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.
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, for Entertainment 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 also nominated by the London Film Critics’ Circle, the Phoenix Film Critics Society and the British Independent Film Awards.
Johansson was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in June 2004. In the same year, she voiced a role in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and appeared in an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan entitled A Good Woman, opposite Helen Hunt and Tom Wilkinson. It received a limited U.S. release, and was both a box office and critical failure. It was 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.” She also appeared in the critically panned, teen, heist film The Perfect Score and in In Good Company, in a supporting role opposite Topher Grace and Dennis Quaid. Her performance in the dark, Southern drama, A Love Song for Bobby Long, earned her a third Golden Globe for Best Actress nomination. Johansson was involved for a short time with the film Mission: Impossible III, but was not officially cast because of scheduling conflicts, although a falling out with the film’s star, Tom Cruise, was reported.
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 failureand 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, Johansson was cast opposite Hugh Jackman and Allen in the 2006 feature, Scoop. While the film enjoyed a modest worldwide box office success, it received mixed reviews by critics. The New York Times called the film “not especially funny yet oddly appealing” and cited parallels to The Thin Man, saying, “[while] Johansson is certainly no Myrna Loy, [her] performance is all over the place … but finally works for a film that is itself all over the place. Mr. Allen seems happy to just watch her strut her stuff, and after a while so are we.” New York magazine said, “Johansson doesn’t have the natural buoyancy to play a screwball Nancy Drew, [but] she’s smart enough to know what’s needed (a young Diane Keaton), and manages to rouse herself”, while USA Today criticized “her delivery of Allenesque one-liners” as “clunky”, and “sometimes, she seems in over her head playing opposite Allen.” 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. Her reviews were mixed. CNN.com noted, “[Johansson] takes to the pulpy period atmosphere as if it were oxygen,” whereas the Kalamazoo Gazette referred to Johansson as “miscast”.
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 his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle said, “There’s something painful about watching Scarlett Johansson, who looks as if she never had an indecisive moment in her life, struggle to seem ineffectual.”
In 2008, she starred in The Other Boleyn Girl, opposite Natalie Portman and Eric Bana, a film which garnered mixed reviews. Writing for Rolling 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.” Variety credited 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. Overall, the film received generally favorable reviews and brought co-star Cruz numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Johansson was described as being “open and malleable” and “serves as a nice contrast to the [other actors]”.
Johansson played Silken Floss, a femme fatale and ally of Samuel L. Jackson’s villain The Octopus, 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, saying, “[It] stumbles somewhat when it tries to get serious”, but praised Johansson for “proving she doesn’t need Woody Allen to be funny.”
In March 2009, Johansson signed on to play Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2 after a scheduling conflict forced Emily Blunt to drop out of the part. The film, released in May 2010, was directed by Jon Favreau and also starred Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson and Sam Rockwell. 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.”
[pullquote_right]Johansson has signed on to play the lead role in the Judd Apatow-produced film Can a Song Save Your Life?. It will be directed by Irish director John Carney.[/pullquote_right]
Johansson made her first stage appearance in the Off Broadway play Sophistry. In 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 was nominated for and won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her role in the play.
Johansson has appeared in advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein, L’Oréal, 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.
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 newcomer Connie Fisher after she won BBC’s talent show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Released on May 8, 2006, Johansson sang the track “Summertime” for Unexpected 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 special Coachella Reunion Show in Indio, California in April 2007.
In 2007, she 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, Johansson spent about a month in Maurice, Louisiana recording an album at Dockside Studio, a rural 12-acre (49,000 m2) complex. 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 Billboard 200 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. 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.
[pullquote_left]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”.[/pullquote_left]
In 2011, Johansson sang “One Whole Hour” for the soundtrack of the documentary film Wretches And Jabberers.
Status as sex symbol
Johansson is considered a “peerless sex symbol” by Channel 4, and she regularly appears at the top of lists of the sexiest women in the world. 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, and No. 2 in 2008. In November 2006, Johansson was named “Sexiest Woman Alive” by Esquire. In February 2007, she was named the “Sexiest Celebrity” of the year by Playboy. 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. Well-known for her fashion sense, she is styled by New York’s Annabel Tollman.
[pullquote_right]Johansson rarely discusses her personal life with the press, saying, “It’s nice to have everybody not know your business.”[/pullquote_right]
In a 2006 interview, Johansson expressed a concern about the potential conflict between the nature of human beings and the concept of monogamy.However, she has stated “contrary to popular belief … [I am] not promiscuous” and that she works “really hard” when she’s in a relationship “to make it work in a monogamous way.” She gets tested for HIV twice a year and has said, “It’s part of being a decent human [and it is] just disgusting behavior when people don’t. It’s so irresponsible.”
She started dating Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds in 2007, and on May 5, 2008, it was reported that the two were engaged. On September 27, 2008, Johansson and Reynolds were married at a quiet ceremony near Tofino, British Columbia. They purchased a $2.8 million home together near Los Angeles, California.On December 14, 2010, Reynolds and Johansson announced that they had separated, saying “after long and careful consideration on both our parts, we’ve decided to end our marriage…We entered our relationship with love and it’s with love and kindness we leave it.” Reynolds filed for divorce on December 23, 2010 in Los Angeles, citing irreconcilable differences. Johansson filed her divorce response simultaneously. The divorce was finalized on July 1, 2011. As the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement, all property and earnings accumulated during the marriage were split evenly.
She has criticized the media and Hollywood for promoting an image that causes unhealthy diets and eating disorders among women, saying, “Being ultra-thin is not sexy at all. Women shouldn’t be forced to conform to unrealistic and unhealthy body images that the media promote.”
She celebrates a “little of both” Christmas and Hanukkah and has described herself as Jewish. Johansson also has stated that she dislikes it when celebrities thank God or Jesus in their award acceptance speeches.
[pullquote_left]On September 14, 2011, the FBI announced it was investigating the alleged hacking of Johansson’s cell phone and the dissemination of nude photographs.[/pullquote_left]
Johansson is 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.
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 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. In addition to her political advocacy, Johansson has taken part in social advocacy as part of the anti-poverty campaign ONE.