NEW YORK TIMES – The movie business is changing. Women have become increasingly visible as directors (Kathryn Bigelow, Lisa Cholodenko, Ava DuVernay) and successful producers (Reese Witherspoon’s production company Pacific Standard scored huge hits with “Gone Girl” and “Wild”; Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won an Oscar in 2016 for the documentary short “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”). Yet many actresses are still paid less than their male peers, and the Academy Awards of 2016 were widely criticized for the lack of nonwhite nominees.
Only a few A-list actresses have been celebrated for their ability to throw punches or show menace on the screen, but that’s beginning to change as well. Scarlett Johansson, 32, received critical acclaim for her role as an alien on the hunt in “Under the Skin” and will appear in 2017 as a crime-fighting policewoman in “Ghost in the Shell.” Her superstar turn as the Black Widow in “The Avengers” series has helped to make her the highest-grossing actress of all time, pulling in over $3.3 billion for movie studios, according to Box Office Mojo. Still, as of this fall, she was the only woman in the top 20 on Mojo’s list.
In an interview, Ms. Johansson discusses how women’s roles in real life are changing their roles in film. The conversation has been edited and abridged.
The world has watched you grow up on screen — you started so early. Over the course of that time, the roles available to women in real life have changed a lot. Is the process of filmmaking starting to reflect that?
We see more female directors, more women in various departments on set. If you looked around a film set even 10 years ago, it was basically a bunch of dudes; maybe in the wardrobe department or in the hair and makeup department there would be women. Now you see more female camera assistants, cinematographers, grips.
In the job that I’m on now, “Rock That Body,” there are a number of women working as crew members, as opposed to many other productions that I’ve been on.
Is this changing the experience of acting for you?
It’s nice to have a diverse group of people so that it doesn’t become so one-note — to have a female energy on set, to have different types of people and different vibes, and a more balanced creative environment.
What a cover shot, right? Scarlett looks incredible for Variety magazine’s Power of Women issue which features multiple cover stars–including Helen Mirren, Miley Cyrus, Laverne Cox and Ava Duvernay. Scarlett’s interview is available to read below, and outtakes from the shoot have also been uploaded.
VARIETY – Planned Parenthood has come under attack during the presidential election, as pro-life Republicans attempt to cut funding for the organization that provides abortions and an array of other medical services for women.
“It’s pretty terrifying,” says Scarlett Johansson. “Somehow, a woman’s right to choose has become a subject that’s on the Republican platform. I don’t really know what it has to do with politics at all. It seems to be a deeply personal issue.”
Growing up in New York, the actress relied on Planned Parenthood for regular checkups, she says.
“I used them to screen me for STDs or take care of my reproductive health, as did all my girlfriends. When I was asked to represent their initiative, it was a no-brainer.”
Planned Parenthood turns 100 this year, with 650 health centers across the U.S. that see 2.5 million patients a year for cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing, and breast exams.
Johansson is a major advocate of such services. In 2012, she made Planned Parenthood and women’s health central themes of her speech at the Democratic National Convention. Two years later, she helped design T-shirts to boost voting in the midterm elections, and she has recorded an audio message that encourages listeners to enroll in less-expensive insurance options available through the Affordable Care Act.
Her high-profile efforts on behalf of the nonprofit don’t stop there, according to Caren Spruch, Planned Parenthood’s director of arts and entertainment engagement.
“She even filmed a video about the impact that Congressional assaults would have on millions of women who rely on Planned Parenthood when she was on location shooting a film,” Spruch says.
Johansson is enhancing her efforts by publicly backing Hillary Clinton, who has vowed to support Planned Parenthood if elected president.
“Hillary is the right candidate for right now,” Johansson says. “I think she’s got a lot of integrity. She’s got a lot of stamina. She’s a very clever politician, and that’s actually important to me. Maybe it’s because I have a daughter now.”
Almost ten years since her last feature (remember this?) for the magazine, Scarlett is once again gracing the pages of Flaunt–for their [CTRL-C]+[CTRL-V] issue. I’ve uploaded photos of the photoshoot to the gallery and the accompanying interview can be read below. Hopefully further coverage will be available for me to share with you very soon. Enjoy!
FLAUNT – Scarlett Johansson is curled comfortably on a stiff slate couch while she narrates to me the details of a popular YouTube video. “It’s two minutes-old twins and they’re being washed for the first time in warm water,” she says, “they’re in the position they were in in-utero and the warm water recreates the womb for them.” She tells me that the video is amazing, her face has a slight glow as she talks about it. “If you really want to see something miraculous,” she says, “It’s so beautiful.” I vow to watch it when I return home—I’d like to get a better understanding for what it must be like to have another human be a direct copy, a DNA complement to yourself. Having a twin sibling, like Johansson does, is a mystery to those who are unmatched.
“My brother and I started life this way,” she says. “In that sense, I’ve never really been alone—ever—which is interesting and probably affects my whole life. We’re extremely close. You have a witness to your life in my many ways. Even if we’re far apart, we have this deep connection with one another.”Continue Reading
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY – Black Widow never has it easy.
Onscreen, Natasha Romanov has an agonizing backstory and is working like hell to do enough good to erase the red from her moral ledger, redeeming a history of bad deeds that we are only allowed to imagine with acts of heroism that defy belief.
Offscreen, much of what Scarlett Johansson’s character does is scrutinized through the lens of gender politics. As one of the few female protagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (until recently), some view her not just as an individual character but as a representative for all womankind. That’s heavy lifting even for a superhero.
Amid accusations that her story arc in Avengers: Age of Ultron was stereotyped and offensive — because, like Tony Stark, she expressed a desire to step back from saving the world (and maybe find someone in it to love, and love her back) — Black Widow became a lightning rod.
Some accused writer-director Joss Whedon of sexism for a storyline that involved Widow developing romantic feelings for Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner in the comic-book version of the Beauty and the Beast folktale. Others were outraged that Widow expressed regret over the juvenile assassin program that forced her to be sterilized. Still others took offense at that complaint, saying the desire to have a family doesn’t mean a woman can’t have a career (beating the hell out of evildoers, or otherwise).
NPR’s pop culture critic Linda Holmes astutely noted that even if you swapped out Widow’s story in Ultron with the arcs of any of her male co-Avengers, each would still “raise questions of whether the story was influenced by gender stereotypes.” If she was Iron Man, she’d be the problem-causer. If she was Captain America, she’d be the uptight one. If she was Hulk, she’d have out-of-control emotions. And so on…Continue Reading
STYLIST – She’s world famous yet incredibly private; effortlessly cool but secretly down-to-earth. Stylist meets the actress to discover what makes her tick.
Of all the things Stylist expected Scarlett Johansson to be into, RuPaul’s Drag Race was not one of them. See also cooking meatloaf and fan-girling over Clive Owen. But then, how much do we really know about the Hollywood star? She’s beguiled critics, audiences and co-stars alike since her big breakout in the late Nineties in The Horse Whisperer. Career-defining roles in Lost In Translation and Vicky Cristina Barcelona followed, leading to her current straddling of both the blockbuster world – starring in the Marvel franchise – and the arthouse with films like Under The Skin.
Yet she has managed to keep her private world just that. We know little of the life she shares with her French husband Romain Dauriac, a creative advertising exec, and their baby Rose Dorothy, living between Paris and New York. But the career choices she makes and her political advocacy – she’s campaigned for the Democrats in three elections now – suggest a smart, cultured and passionate mind. One that we wanted to know more about.
When Stylist meets 30-year-old Johansson she’s dressed in a sharp black trouser suit, her short crop swished to the side, New Romantic style. She wears a cluster of rings and a charm bracelet tattoo on her wrist – you have to squint to see the slogan it bears: ‘I Heart NY’. It’s a discreet declaration, but one that offers a tantalising glimpse behind the scenes.
In conversation. Johansson is equal parts fun and serious. Particularly striking is how she concentrates on you; studying your mannerisms as much as you do hers. This observational skill is one of the qualities that marks out every part she takes on, not least in her current role as Black Widow in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, which she has built up into a truly three dimensional character since joining the Marvel family in 2010.
So, what lies behind the on-screen heroics? What are Johansson’s real life passions? Here, she tells Stylist what really makes her happy.
My TV Obsessions: I love RuPaul’s Drag Race. The show is delightful. That’s the guilty pleasure. I love [US chef] Anthony Bourdain. He has a great travel show called Parts Unknown. He’s my favourite. What else is on my ‘to watch’ list? I’m waiting for the second season of [historic drama] The Knick. Clive Owen is amazing. I totally geeked out when I saw him at a party recently. I was over-zealous. I’d met him before but this time I was like [frantically], “I just have to tell you I love you, oh my god.” I was talking about the season and what’s going to happen next. He must think I’m a freak.Continue Reading
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out this beautiful photoshoot of Scarlett and Elizabeth Olsen for the Los Angeles Times. The accompanying article can be found below. Enjoy!
Photoshoots & Portraits > Photoshoots in 2015 > Session 002 – Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES TIMES – Elizabeth Olsen is doing more than bringing the Marvel Comics character Scarlet Witch to the big screen in Friday’s tentpole film “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” She’s also doubling the number of women on the Avengers roster.
“It’s really cool, and I don’t take it for granted,” said Olsen, 26, a self-professed fan of the comic book film franchise.
Previously, Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, was the sole female member of the muscle-bound team of super-studs, comprising Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. With four Marvel movies under her utility belt and a fifth (“Captain America: Civil War”) slated to begin filming next week, Johansson, 30, is a veteran of the flourishing Marvel Cinematic Universe. And she’s eager to welcome more women to the franchise.
“For so long, female superheroes have been mistreated, and I think women’s roles in general are often oversimplified and generic and saccharine,” said Johansson earlier this month at the Walt Disney Studio lot in Burbank.Continue Reading
PARADE – In Scarlett Johansson’s eagerly awaited new movie, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, she stars as the Black Widow, the superhero role she has successfully played in three previous Marvel blockbusters. Recently, in Los Angeles, Johansson met for several hours with Parade’s Dotson Rader to talk about acting, love, marriage, family, and other matters close to her heart.
You are a native New Yorker and grew up in Greenwich Village.
SJ: Yes. My mom is from the Bronx. Her parents were New Yorkers. My father is Danish, from Copenhagen.
You started acting at a very young age. How did that happen?
SJ: When I was about 7, I started auditioning. I enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute for Kids. I booked the first two auditions that I went on, a Kitchen-Aid commercial and a film [North, starring John Ritter]. I loved shooting that film. So I just kept auditioning and booking stuff, and that’s how it happened. I got lucky.
Is it the applause that you’re after?
SJ: I don’t know necessarily that it’s about the applause. Of course, that’s always welcome. When I did A View from the Bridge, I was convinced that people wanted me to fail. I was really nervous.
(Johansson won the Best Actress Tony for her Broadway performance in Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge in 2010. Her costar was Liev Schreiber.)
I remember Liev saying to me, “[An actor] always thinks the audience is against you. But for the audience this is a night out on the town, a Broadway show. They want to be carried away. They’re rooting for you. They want you to succeed.” He’s right. It totally changed my experience of stepping out on stage. Suddenly, it felt like it was a whole room of people who wanted to be moved. It’s such an amazing feeling.
Are you going to come back to Broadway?
SJ: Oh yes, yes, for sure. I feel at home there. I love it! Your relationship with a live audience is very different than your relationship with the movie camera. It used to be even more so when we used actual film. Then the actors could hear the film running through the camera. It felt like a living organism is witnessing what you’re doing. But we don’t have that anymore.Continue Reading
PARADE – If you ask Scarlett Johansson where she calls home, she doesn’t have an easy answer.
“I live a little bit of everywhere. My husband and I and the baby are a little bit nomadic at the moment,” says the globetrotting actress.
To Johansson, 30, home is wherever her family is. She and her husband, French art curator and former journalist Romain Dauriac, welcomed a baby girl, Rose Dorothy, last September. They live in Paris, close to his family, and in New York City, close to hers.
One place she always feels at home is in front of the camera. Audiences can see her next in Avengers: Age of Ultron, opening May 1, in which she returns for the fourth time to the super-heroic, crime-fighting, world-saving role of the World War II-era Black Widow alongside Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
“I really enjoy playing this character. She was really the first female superhero, a reluctant one,” she says. “She’s never really been able to forge close relationships with anybody. She’s a lone wolf.”
Off camera, Johansson couldn’t be more different from her introverted character. “I’m constantly dazzled by Scarlett’s technique because on set, she’s a goofball,” says Avengers director Joss Whedon. “She’s always cracking people up. She works hard, but then, cut!—she’s goofing around again.”
Johansson had the itch to entertain from a young age, and her hometown of the Big Apple was the perfect environment for the budding young actress.
“I was always very dramatically inclined, ever since I was 3 or 4,” she says. “I was very outgoing. I loved adults. I loved attention. I loved to perform. I used to put on shows for my family. Unfortunately, there’s video evidence of that—my dad with the damn camcorder!”Continue Reading
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH – While many celebrities new to motherhood make it sound effortless, as though they slipped into a vastly altered lifestyle with barely a glitch, Scarlett Johansson, who gave birth to Rose Dorothy last September, is a little more grounded.
“I’m such a newbie at this,” she admitted to News.com.au.
“I always really hate it when actors or people in the spotlight make giant grandiose statements about parenthood because it’s so, so personal,” she smiles.
“And I don’t profess to know anything more about parenting than anybody else.”
Johansson, 30, is raising her daughter with second hubby, French advertising executive, Romain Dauriac, between their homes in Paris and New York City.
Although she doesn’t wax lyrical about the joys or challenges of motherhood, she does acknowledge that her career and most certainly her life has forever changed.
“I have a greater responsibility now so that will definitely affect my schedule.
“Before (Rose), I just made the choices that were affecting me but now I’m responsible for somebody else. Eventually I will have to work less and it might even make me more discerning,” she says.Continue Reading
PEOPLE – Scarlett Johansson has played the Black Widow in a slew of Marvel films, but the demands of the role haven’t gotten any easier for her.
“I don’t think you’re allowed to ride a motorcycle when you’re so pregnant, but I did,” Johansson, who welcomed a daughter with Romain Dauriac in September, explained at a press event for the film at the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California, Saturday. “I did all of the motorcycle riding. I embarrassingly rode some sort of mechanical-bull type of motorcycle, which goes nowhere and doesn’t look cool, at all. But, I had some very professional and amazing motor-cross morphing done that makes Black Widow look like a total badass.”
“Every film is exciting because I get new tools and fun new stuff to do, and luckily Joss writes me some badass moves that make me look like that,” she continued. “It”s awesome.”
Asked how she sees Black Widow moving forward in the Marvel universe, Scarlett explained the character’s arc in Avengers 2.
“In the beginning of Avengers 2, there is some sense, finally, of everything being normal, in a way… And at the end of Avengers 2, I think Widow… had this moment of false hope, where she felt like she’d put in the work and [felt] there should be some kind of personal payoff, and she was ready to accept it. And she realizes that her calling is a greater one, which is not necessarily something that she’s thrilled about.”
“That’s what is most heroic about her,” Johansson concluded. “She’s accepting the call of duty, even at her own personal loss. I think it’s an interesting place to leave her.”
Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters May 1.