Access Hollywood Interview with Scarlett Johansson & Florence Pugh

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh spoke to Access Hollywood’s Sibley Scoles ahead of the release of their highly anticipated Marvel film, “Black Widow” where they opened up about working together and the friendship that was formed on set. “We just got really lucky, we both work in a similar environment, similar style, we both like to chat a lot, goof around, keep things loose,” Scarlett explained. She also revealed if her 6-year-old daughter Rose will see “Black Widow,” “She’s not going to be able to make it through this one, she’s too little, she’s too little. I tried to watch ‘Star Wars’ with her and the minute a Storm Trooper came on which is basically minute two-and-a-half, she said, ‘Mommy this is too scary.’ We made it through ‘Back To The Future’ just in the timeline was enough.” “Black Widow” will be released in theaters and on Disney + with Premier Access on July 9th.

EXTRA Talks With ‘Black Widow’ Stars Scarlett Johansson & Florence Pugh

“Extra’s” Nate Burleson caught up with Johansson and her co-star Florence Pugh to talk about the film and its message of female empowerment.

Scarlett Johansson to Receive American Cinematheque Award

VARIETY – Scarlett Johansson will receive the 35th annual American Cinematheque Award gala and tribute at the Beverly Hilton on Nov. 18.

American Cinematheque chair Rick Nicita said Johansson’s career embodies the essence of the prestigious award.

“Her immense talent has shone brightly from her movie debut as a child through her emergence as a megastar of blockbusters,” Nicita said in a statement Tuesday morning. “She has acted in adventurous independent films with cutting-edge directors. She has starred in the most commercial of franchises. She has taken leading roles and supporting roles in movies budgeted big and small. Whenever she graces the screen with her luminous presence, the audience knows that they will see a dedicated artist at the height of her powers. We can’t wait to share in the next phase of Scarlett Johansson’s marvelous career.”

A New York native, Johansson made her professional acting debut at the age of eight in the off-Broadway production of “Sophistry” alongside Ethan Hawke. She has since appeared in an array of successful blockbuster franchises, most notably in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow. First appearing in “Iron Man 2” alongside Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle in 2010, Johansson went on to star in the two “Captain America” sequels and all four “Avengers” films. She will make her eighth and presumably final appearance as the titular superhero in her long-awaited solo film “Black Widow.”

Johansson received critical acclaim for her role as Nicole Barber in “Marriage Story” and her supporting role as Rozie Betzler in “Jojo Rabbit.” She received nominations for an Oscar, Screen Actors Guild Award and a BAFTA Award for her roles in both 2019 films. Other notable credits include “Lucy,” “Under the Skin,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Her,” “The Horse Whisperer,” “Manny & Lo,” “Hail, Caesar!,” “The Jungle Book,” “Chef,” “Don Jon” and “Hitchcock.”

Previous American Cinematheque Award honorees include: Eddie Murphy (1986); Bette Midler (1987); Robin Williams (1988); Steven Spielberg (1989); Ron Howard (1990); Martin Scorsese (1991); Sean Connery (1992); Michael Douglas (1993); Rob Reiner (1994); Mel Gibson (1995); Tom Cruise (1996); John Travolta (1997); Arnold Schwarzenegger (1998); Jodie Foster (1999); Bruce Willis (2000); Nicolas Cage (2001); Denzel Washington (2002); Nicole Kidman (2003); Steve Martin (2004); Al Pacino (2005); George Clooney (2006); Julia Roberts (2007); Samuel L. Jackson (2008); Matt Damon (2010); Robert Downey Jr. (2011); Ben Stiller (2012); Jerry Bruckheimer (2013); Matthew McConaughey (2014); Reese Witherspoon (2015); Ridley Scott (2016); Amy Adams (2017); Bradley Cooper (2018); Charlize Theron (2019) and Spike Lee (2020).

Scarlett Johansson on the Sexualization of Natasha Romanoff and Why It Took 10 Years to Make ‘Black Widow’

COLLIDER – In 2019, Disney brought Collider and a few other journalists to London to visit the set of their highly anticipated new MCU movie Black Widow, which was in production at the time. Little did we know that the film’s planned 2020 release date would be pushed back over a year, making the wait for the Black Widow movie even longer.

Black Widow is now due to cinemas on July 9, 2021 (as well as being simultaneously released on Disney+ via Premier Access), which means we can finally share what we learned while on the Black Widow set. We were fortunate enough to speak with several people who worked on the film, including Black Widow herself Scarlett Johansson, who has portrayed Natasha Romanov (the titular Black Widow), since 2010.

We spoke with Johansson about legacy of Natasha in the MCU and how the character has evolved since her debut in Iron Man 2, and how her characterization in that film was hypersexualized. We also discussed her relationship with her sister-not-sister Yelena Belova, played in the film by Florence Pugh, and how the relationship between Natasha and Yelena changed before filming began.

So, Yelena seems to be a key part of Natasha’s redemption arc. Could you talk a little bit about that potential?
SCARLETT JOHANSSON: Yeah. We knew we wanted to include the Yelena character really early on, but that character really transformed over the months of prep that we did and development. The character kind of felt very — I don’t know how to say this. I guess what I would say is that the story of two women competing against one another and trying to take each other down and sort of dethrone one another felt uninteresting. It just didn’t feel like what I wanted to explore and I think what, really, audiences wanted to see. It just felt very old fashioned and not true, and so taking that feeling and running with that instinct, the relationship developed into what it is, which is it’s a relationship that I think is grounded in a shared experience and a knowingness and a sisterhood. With that comes many complicated feelings, of course. Not all good, fuzzy ones, but real grounded ones. It’s a very special relationship. I think it will be very touching for a lot of people. I have a lot of empathy for that relationship and for both of those characters’ history and trauma, and that shared history, as dark as it is, brings them together and there’s a lot of love between them. But, their relationship is also contentious and everything else that comes with that kind of sisterly relationship.

I think Natasha has a lot of compassion and that’s not necessarily what I would have anticipated when we were filming Iron Man 2 or Avengers or whatever. You’ve seen glimpses of it and it’s developed over time, as we’ve been able to bring the character to the forefront in different instillments, but she’s a very compassionate person and that passion is actually what drives a lot of her decision making. I mean, she’s also practical and pragmatic and I don’t think those two things have to necessarily work against each other. That part of her is what really touches me.

Did you know about Black Widow’s death when you started production and did that affect your mindset when you went into filming?
JOHANSSON: We started talking about this film as a reality — it’s always kind of been on the table, but I guess I just never really knew what it was going to be. It was never really clear what the space for it was. This movie would have been so different if we’d made it 10 years ago. It was a different time. I think we can all agree on that. A lot of people ask me why we didn’t do it before now, but in some ways — I’m sure there’s a lot of reasons for that — in some ways I’m actually very thankful that it’s happening now because we can actually make a movie that’s about real stuff and audiences want that. I think they always wanted that. Now the studio’s kind of caught up to that, which is fine. It’s all good. Better late than never. This movie became more of a reality, I guess, when we were shooting Infinity War, so I did know about the character’s fate.

It was helpful of course because it helped inform when we were talking about when this film would take place. That was important and also it was kind of nice in a way. There was no pressing urgency to make it, so we made it because we wanted to in a way, which is way better than making something because you have to.

There is a sort of sexualization of superheroes. How did that effect Black Widow?
JOHANSSON: Yeah. It definitely has changed and I think part of that change has probably — it’s hard because I’m inside it, but probably a lot of that is actually from me too. I’ll be 35 years old and I’m a mom and my life is different. Obviously, 10 years have passed and things have happened and I have a much different, more evolved understanding of myself. As a woman, I’m in a different place in my life, you know? And I felt more forgiving of myself, as a woman, and not — sometimes probably not enough. I’m more accepting of myself, I think. All of that is related to that move away from the kind of hyper-sexualization of this character and, I mean, you look back at Iron Man 2 and while it was really fun and had a lot of great moments in it, the character is so sexualized, you know? Really talked about like she’s a piece of something, like a possession or a thing or whatever — like a piece of ass, really. And Tony even refers to her as something like that at one point. What does he say?

“I want some.”

JOHANSSON: “I want some.” Yeah and at one point calls her a piece of meat and maybe at that time that actually felt like a compliment. You know what I mean? Because my thinking was different. Maybe I even would have, you know, my own self-worth was probably measured against that type of comment or, like a lot of young women, you come into your own and you understand your own self-worth. It’s changing now. Now people, young girls, are getting a much more positive message, but it’s been incredible to be a part of that shift and be able to come out the other side and be a part of that old story, but also progress. Evolve. I think it’s pretty cool.

What’s your perspective on when this movie takes place? We know it’s right after Civil War, but what does that mean for Natasha?
JOHANSSON: Yeah, post-Civil War felt like a good time to start. I mean, we never intended to do an origin story. I never wanted to do an origin story because I just didn’t want to go back. I wanted to move forward. Even though we are going back it all makes sense when you see it. But, it felt like a good time because Natasha has always been a part of some operation. She’s always been an operative and she’s actually never really had to, for better or worse, make any decisions for herself. She’s made decisions, but she’s part of this greater whole -— whether it was the Red Room or SHEILD or The Avengers, you know -— she’s had this kind of family, for better or worse, and then after Civil War it’s gone. It’s all gone. Everything is gone and for the first time ever, really, she’s just on her own. She could totally disappear into the ether and that would be that. She doesn’t have to return to anything. Which is a pretty terrifying place to be when you’ve been attached to something for so long and now you’re suddenly floating.

Obviously she’s very self-sufficient. I mean, she has connections everywhere and whatever, but she’s kind of on the lam and she’s feeling like a fugitive and it’s a really interesting place to start. Like, all the pieces are everywhere and how do we connect everything back together? When you find her in the beginning of the film she’s just broken. By the end of the film the goal is to put her back together different than before, you know? And we, Kevin and I, at the very beginning, we agreed it was clear that that was the best place to start in the timeline. It gave us a lot of grid and every possibility and we always said that if the Avengers were above and then let’s say all the villainous characters are below in some dark underground thing, the most interesting thing about Natasha is that she can go between both seamlessly and her allegiance is not always so clear. She doesn’t operate on the same moral compass and a grey area is a cool place to live.

So, heroines haven’t always been empowered in stories, but we’ve been demanding a lot more now of heroines and empowerment means different things to different people now. I was just wondering what empowerment, to you, how has it changed since you started playing Natasha and how is it interpreted in this version of Natasha?
JOHANSSON: Well, I think that actually goes back to the other question about this hyper-sexualization thing because I think actually Natasha uses her sexuality as a means to feel, to sort of manipulate a situation and then be coquettish and sly and then she’s going to take your legs out, right? She’s going to be seductive in this way, and that’s her power. Her power’s in her sexuality, and then that changed over time, right? Her strength was actually her vulnerability. That’s the kind of place that we’re in now and then in Endgame she sacrifices herself out of love. She saves her friend. She saves everyone. And I think that just being in that kind of headspace and being able to make that decision, that selfless act is so incredibly powerful. It’s amazing that she could be in that place to do that.

So, it’s been an interesting evolution and it’s been interesting to discover it with each director that I’ve worked with and what they see. What they’re interested in and what side they want to uncover. With Cate it’s just been so liberating because she’s not afraid of any of the ugliness or — it doesn’t need to be ugliness, it’s even embarrassing or uncomfortable parts, like the soft underbelly, all that. That’s what she wants to make movies about. So you see Natasha’s in her real, true strength in this film more than ever before.

Black Widow opens in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on July 9th.

Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff Journey From ‘Iron Man 2’ to ‘Black Widow’

MARVEL – Academy Award-nominated actress Scarlett Johansson first made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2010 with Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 2, and over ten years later, in 2021, audiences will discover her character Natasha Romanoff’s story outside of the Avengers with the release of Black Widow, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on July 9.

Not much is known about Natasha Romanoff, but as an elite super spy, she prefers it that way. What we do now know is that she’s done running from her past, and that the Avengers weren’t her first family.

In Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

FROM EVERYTHING TO NOTHING
Black Widow immediately picks up after the events of Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War. During an intimate press discussion on the set of Black Widow, Johansson reminisced that as an operative, Natasha has always been part of this “greater whole,” whether it was part of the Red Room, or S.H.I.E.L.D., or the Avengers. She’s been part of some unit or makeshift family, but now “after Civil War, it’s all gone. Everything is gone. And for the first time ever, really just on her own.”

This predicament presented challenges that intrigued Johansson. “She doesn’t have to return to anything,” remarked Johansson, “which is a pretty terrifying place to be when you’ve been attached to something for so long.”

A TEAM OF ONE
“When you find her at the beginning of the film, she’s just broken,” shared Johansson, “and by the end of the film, the goal is to put her back together, but different from before.”

While the elite super spy known as Black Widow, now on the run as a fugitive, has always been self-sufficient, with connections everywhere, she’s finally presented an opportunity to just walk it all back, but can she?

It was important to Johansson that the solo Black Widow film was not an origin film. In her discussions with producer Kevin Feige and executive producer Brad Winderbaum, they felt this timeline was the best point in Natasha’s story to tell.

In their discussions, they realized what they wanted to explore was the relationship between Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff and Florence Pugh’s Yelena. Johansson had no interest in the story of “two women competing against one another, trying to take each other down, dethroning one another.” In Black Widow, we witness the love shared in the space of sisterhood.

BACK TO THE BEGINNING
Johansson reflected on what it was like to grow these past ten years and seeing the character most intrinsically linked to her grow as well as Natasha was brought to the forefront in the Marvel Studios films and why it was worth the wait to tell her solo story now. “This movie would have been so different if we made it ten years ago,” commented Johansson, “I’m very thankful it’s happening now.”

Johansson noted that the changes are partly due to her turning 35 and being a mother, and how her life informs the roles and stories she wants to pursue. “I have a much more evolved understanding of myself as a woman and I’m in a different place in my life,” stated Johansson.

“It’s been incredible to be part of that shift,” said Johansson.

OWNING HER STORY
Johansson highlighted what she sees as two of Natasha Romanoff’s strengths — compassion and vulnerability.

“Natasha has a lot of compassion,” exclaimed Johansson before noting that that would not have been a trait she necessarily would have called out in her character during Iron Man 2 or Marvel’s The Avengers. However, “that compassion is what drives a lot of [Natasha’s] decision making; that part really touches me,” shared Johansson.

“Her power, her strength was actually her vulnerability,” stated Johansson, which resulted in Natasha’s altruistic sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame in the name of love for her friend Clint Barton, and also the world.

Johansson delighted in exploring this evolution and aspect of Natasha with each director she works with sharing how the experience has been with director Cate Shortland has been “liberating” because Shortland has no issue diving into “the ugliness or what’s perceived to be ugliness—the embarrassing or uncomfortable.”

“I hope you see Natasha in her real true strength more than ever before,” Johansson concluded as she exited the interview.

Watch Scarlett Johansson reprise her role as Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow in Marvel Studios’ Black Widow. Experience it in theaters or on Disney+ with Premier Access on July 9. Additional fee required.


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Black Widow [2021]
as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow

A film about Natasha Romanoff in her quests between the films Civil War and Infinity War.

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Sing 2 [2021]
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Buster Moon and his friends must persuade reclusive rock star Clay Calloway to join them for the opening of a new show.

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In her most recent magazine feature, Scarlett was featured on the March 2020 issue of Entertainment Weekly. In addition to a stunning photoshoot, she discussed the upcoming movie, Black Widow.

“This film is very much a result of that journey, my own personal journey,” Johansson says of her 10-year run as Black Widow. “I feel that I probably wasn’t as willing or able to go to the kind of uncomfortable, embarrassing, ugly places before. I think it’s just as you get older, you trust yourself more.”
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Quoting Scarlett
"I’m certainly, obviously, very happy and fulfilled in my personal life, but I’m also a sum of many parts, and able to access different parts of my story and how I got here. It’s all valuable."
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