Scarlett Johansson thinks her career could have gone in a different direction if she continued to take “bombshell-type” roles. The 38-year-old actress sat down for a rare podcast interview on Table for Two with Bruce Bozzi and recognized how 2003’s Lost in Translation set her on a certain trajectory.
“It sort of was my transition into my adult career,” Johansson, who made her film debut at age 9, recalled. “I had a really hard time doing it Lost in Translation. I was 17, I was far away, I was working with Bill Murray who I was an enormous fan of and he obviously has a very big personality and he’s sort of a formidable character at times. Our characters have this kind of real love for one another, this profound relationship, and that was hard for me — I struggled with that for different reasons.”
Weeks after wrapping Sofia Coppola’s romantic dramedy, Johansson went on to film Girl With the Pearl Earring alongside Colin Firth. After finishing both movies, Johansson felt like she was in a “weird fever dream.”
“Young girls like that are really objectified and that’s just a fact,” Johansson said at one point, explaining how her career began with “this path of ingénue.”
“I know 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. I think it was because of that trajectory I had been sort of launched towards — I really got stuck,” Johansson told Bozzi. “I was kind of being groomed, in a way, to be this what you call a bombshell-type of actor . I was playing the other woman and the object of desire and I suddenly found myself cornered in this place like I couldn’t get out of it. Right around that time is when I met Bryan.”
Johansson is referring to CAA partner and co-chairman, Bryan Lourd. The actress credits the powerhouse agent, who is married to Bozzi, with changing her career.
“It would be easy to sit across from someone in that situation and go, ‘This is working,'” she said. “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. And I just felt, how is this burning out so quickly? It was an interesting, weird conundrum to be in but it really came back to doing work — to working at it and trying to carve a place in different projects and work in great ensembles.”
One “incredible opportunity” that came along was the second Iron Man film.
“That part at the time was very underdeveloped and oversexualized, 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. 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, which at the time people forget, that genre was not what it is now,” Johansson continued. “The first Iron Man with Robert Downey was a sensation, it was unprecedented.”
Johansson is now one of Hollywood’s highest-earning stars and has been nominated for an Oscar twice since teaming up with Lourd. While some may think that the gold statue is her dream, Johansson’s ultimate goal may come as a surprise.
“I really love producing and I love producing other people’s stuff,” she declared. “My ideal job is a corner office on the Disney lot.”
Johansson sued Disney last year for simultaneously releasing Black Widow in theaters and on its streaming platform Disney+, claiming the move violated her contract. The two reached a confidential settlement rumored to be around $40 million. Sounds like it’s all water on the bridge.
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