Scarlett Johansson is one of the few child actors who successfully transform into more mature roles. She spent her childhood starring in films such as Home Alone 3, Horse Charmer and Ghost World, and then played AI in Her and joined the cast of The Avengers. Although she achieved great success as a child actor, she also had a number of flaws. In this regard, Johansson recently spoke about acting at a young age and that at the beginning of her career she was “hypersexualized.”
The “Black Widow” star spoke about her childhood experience as an actor during an interview for the Armchair Expert podcast. She and host Dax Shepard recalled their days when they were part of the young Hollywood scene of the 2000s. The conversation turned to Scarlett Johansson’s early career when Shepard confessed his love for the 2003 film “Translation Difficulties”. Johansson mentioned that she was 17 when she played a recent college graduate, Charlotte. Reflecting on her past work experience, the Oscar-nominated actress said:
It’s hard to look at work right in the middle of it, but I think now that I’m older, I see the shape of things better.
At the time when she starred in the acclaimed Sofia Coppola film, the actress was not yet used to playing characters older than herself. However, as she recalled, she was used to working on sets that were mostly filled with adults. At the same time, she explained what it’s like to be surrounded by adults while working as a child actor:
I grew up in Manhattan and spent a lot of time with adults because of my job. I remember when I was seven years old and I was working on my first Rob Reiner film called “North”. I thought: “It’s excellent. Hundreds of adults laugh at me. It’s such a good concert.”
Her reception on the Northern Set seemed to have shaped her faith in the movie business. Apparently, for Scarlett Johansson, the main thing was to behave and think like an adult on the set, and eventually she managed to find a common language with her colleagues. But there were also disadvantages. The star recalled how she was insulted by a makeup artist who had to disguise a pimple, calling it “Mount Vesuvius.” According to Johansson, this moment was nothing compared to other inappropriate situations she encountered on set. As for how she handled it, she said:
I spent a lot of time in this environment, definitely in different situations that were not age-appropriate, but fortunately my mom was really good at protecting me from all this.
Luckily, she had her mom on set to protect her. This gives her an idea of today, given that Scarlett Johansson is now a mother of two children. Sometimes former child actors tell stories in which they lacked protection. Despite this, Johansson felt that her image was overly sexualized as she approached adulthood. It wasn’t something Johansson liked, as Hollywood treated her as if she was much older than her actual age:
I got married when I was 23. So, I got married very young, but at that moment I felt 33. I was living a really full life at that moment. It was very hard for me, I kind of became objective and classified in such a way that I felt I wasn’t getting job offers for the things I wanted to do. I remember thinking: “People seem to believe that I’m 40 years old.” And somehow I stopped being wanted by someone, which I was fighting against.
Imagine that at the age of 23 you are fighting to be considered desirable, while the film industry is trying to drive you out to pasture. It’s true that by the time she reached that age, the young star had done a lot of work, but I think most would agree that by that time her career should not have been close to completion. During the interview, the star said that she really felt that her career was coming to an end, and explained how her “hypersexualization” in her youth affected this:
Because I think everyone thought I got older and I was [playing] for a long time, and then I kind of got stuck in this weird hypersexual thing. It’s like it’s over, that’s your career. These are the roles you played, and I thought: “That’s probably it”…The podium is not that long. So at that time it was scary… I attributed a lot to people who thought I was much, much older than I really was.
Scarlett Johansson is not the only one who found herself in this position, as the actress expressed sympathy to fellow child Natalie Portman about the fact that at an early age she was portrayed openly sexually. Portman experienced the same thing after a role in the romantic comedy “Beautiful Girls”. Two actresses compared notes during the filming of “The Other Boleyn Girl.” Johansson revealed that Portman said the fallout “spoiled her” when she started leaning towards the roles of the good girls after the romantic comedy.
The Sing 2 star concluded by mentioning that a sexualized image is not “sustainable” in Hollywood, as a person eventually “burns out” from being a sex symbol. She stressed that the image has never been a major part of her personality either on or off the screen.
Now the Hollywood actress has emerged from the “sex symbol” stage as she continues to rake in project after project. Scarlett Johansson will appear in the Apple TV+ Project Artemis movie alongside Channing Tatum, who replaced her regular partner Chris Evans. She also stars in the Wes Anderson ensemble “Asteroid City” and the British drama “My Mother’s Wedding.” Although there are no films featuring Johansson this year, check out the schedule of upcoming films to find out what else is coming to theaters soon.