Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson says she was ‘kind of being groomed’ to play sexualized characters in her late teens: ‘I couldn’t get out of it’

While reflecting back on her career, Scarlett Johansson, 38, said she felt that she was thrust into roles that sexualized her while in her late teens. She also recalled her need to break free from that typecasting.

“I did ‘Lost in Translation’ and ‘Girl With the Pearl Earring’ and by that point, I was 18, 19 and I was coming into my own womanhood and learning my own desirability and sexuality,” she said on the podcast “Table for Two with Bruce Bozzi” of the two high-profile movies she starred in back in 2003.

“I was kind of being groomed, in a way, to be this what you call a bombshell-type actor,” she continued. “I was playing the other woman and the object of desire and I suddenly found myself cornered in this place. I couldn’t get out of it.”

After “Lost in Translation” and “Girl With the Pearl Earring,” Johansson continued getting cast as the “bombshell” character in Woody Allen movies like 2005’s “Match Point” and 2008’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

Vicky Christina Barcelona
Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” 
The Weinstein Company

“It would be easy to sit across from someone in that situation and go, ‘This is working,'” she explained. “But for that kind of bombshell, you know, that burns bright and quick and then it’s done and you don’t have opportunity beyond that. It was an interesting, weird conundrum to be in but it really came back to working at it and trying to carve a place in different projects and work in great ensembles.”

She told “Table for Two” that was a big reason why she wanted to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2010’s “Iron Man 2” playing Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow.

“I got this incredible opportunity to work in the second Iron Man, which that part at the time was very underdeveloped and over-sexualized, but I wanted to form a relationship with Jon Favreau who I worked with a couple of times after that, who’s an inspiration for me,” she said. “And I also wanted to work with Kevin Feige, who’s the head of Marvel, who I knew had a vision for this big picture.”

Iron Man 2 Robert Donwney Jr. and Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man 2.” 
Paramount Studios

The strategy paid off as Johansson’s Romanoff character became one of the pillars of the MCU.

Since then she’s become one of the biggest box-office draws in Hollywood. Aside from Marvel, she’s since voiced a character in the “Sing” franchise and starred in dramatic works like “Marriage Story” and “Jojo Rabbit.”

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