Scarlett I. Johansson (born November 22, 1984) is an American actress and singer. Johansson made her film debut in the 1994 film North and was subsequently nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Female for her performance in 1996's Manny & Lo. Johansson rose to fame with her role in 1998's The Horse Whisperer and subsequently gained critical acclaim for her breakout performance in Ghost World in 2001, for which she won the Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actress.
She made the transition to adult roles with her critically acclaimed performance in Sofia Coppola's film Lost in Translation opposite Bill Murray, for which she won a BAFTA Award, and Girl with a Pearl Earring, the latter two earning her Golden Globe Award nominations in 2003. A role in A Love Song for Bobby Long earned her a third nomination for Golden Globe for Best Actress. Following an appearance in The Island, Johansson again garnered critical acclaim and a fourth Golden Globe nomination, for Best Supporting Actress, for her role in Woody Allen's Match Point. She followed that with another Allen film, Scoop, with Hugh Jackman. A role in Brian de Palma's film noir The Black Dahlia was followed by a second role opposite Hugh Jackman in The Prestige, also starring Christian Bale.
Following a 2007 appearance in the critical flop The Nanny Diaries, Johansson's career experienced a resurgence of critical reception with the 2008 films The Other Boleyn Girl opposite Natalie Portman and Eric Bana and the Woody Allen directed film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, with Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz. She received positive reviews for her appearance in He's Just Not That into You (2009) and will appear as anti-heroine Black Widow in Iron Man 2 with Robert Downey Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson.
On May 20, 2008, Johansson debuted as a vocalist on her first album, Anywhere I Lay My Head, which included cover versions of Tom Waits songs. An upcoming album, Break Up, with Pete Yorn is scheduled for release in September, 2009.
Johansson was born in New York City. Her father, Karsten Johansson, is a Danish-born architect, and her paternal grandfather, Ejner Johansson, was a screenwriter and director. Her mother, Melanie Sloan, a producer, comes from an Ashkenazi Jewish family from the Bronx. Johansson's parents met in Denmark, where her mother lived with Johansson's maternal grandmother, Dorothy, a former bookkeeper and schoolteacher. Johansson has an older sister, Vanessa, who is an actress; an older brother, Adrian; a twin brother, Hunter (whose only film, Manny & Lo, starred Scarlett); and a half-brother, Christian, from her father's re-marriage.
Johansson grew up in a household with "little money", with a mother who was a "film buff". She and brother Hunter attended P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village in elementary school. Johansson began her theater training by attending and graduating from Professional Children's School in Manhattan in 2002.
Johansson began acting during childhood, after her mother began taking her to auditions. She made her film debut at age nine as John Ritter's daughter in the 1994 fantasy comedy North. Following minor roles in the 1995 film Just Cause, as the daughter of Sean Connery and Kate Capshaw, and If Lucy Fell in 1996, she landed the role of Amanda in the Lisa Krueger-helmed film Manny & Lo. Her performance garnered a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Female, and positive reviews, one noting that the film "grows on you, largely because of the charm of ... Scarlett Johansson", while San Francisco Chronicle critic Mick LaSalle praised her "peaceful aura", predicting that "if she can get through puberty with that aura undisturbed, she could become an important actress."
After appearing in minor roles in Fall in 1997 and Home Alone 3, Johansson garnered widespread attention for her performance in the 1998 film The Horse Whisperer, directed by Robert Redford. She received a nomination for the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Newcomer for the film. In 1999, she appeared in both My Brother the Pig and the neo-noir Coen brothers film The Man Who Wasn't There, as well as a very brief appearance in the Mandy Moore video for her single "Candy". Although the film was not a box office success, she received praise for her breakout role in the critically acclaimed 2001 film, Ghost World. Credited with "sensitivity and talent [that] belie her age", Johansson went on to win the Chlotrudis and Toronto Film Critics Association Awards for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for the Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Transition to adult roles
Johansson marked her transition to adult roles in a pair of 2003 films. In the much heralded Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation, she played the abandoned young wife Charlotte opposite Bill Murray. In praising the work of Johansson and Murray, film critic Roger Ebert described the film as "sweet and sad at the same time as it is sardonic and funny". Of her performance, also described as exuding an "embracing, restful serenity", the New York Times said, "At 18, the actress gets away with playing a 25-year-old woman by using her husky voice to test the level of acidity in the air ... Ms. Johansson is not nearly as accomplished a performer as Mr. Murray, but Ms. Coppola gets around this by using Charlotte's simplicity and curiosity as keys to her character". Johansson won the BAFTA Award and the Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for the role. She received nominations from a number of film critic organizations, incluing the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Phoenix Film Critics Society and the Chlotrudis Awards.
Johansson found equal praise for her role as Griet in Peter Webber's Girl with a Pearl Earring. Noting that "audiences feel as if they are spying on a moment of artistic inspiration when painter Vermeer creates the title work", USA Today praised her, suggesting that she "is having a banner year that Oscar voters should recognize." In his review for the New Yorker, Anthony Lane said "what keeps Webber’s movie alive is the tenseness of the setup ... and, above all, the presence of Johansson. She is often wordless and close to plain onscreen, but wait for the ardor with which she can summon a closeup and bloom under its gaze; this is her film, not Vermeer’s, all the way." Owen Gleiberman, for Entertainment Weekly, praised her "nearly silent performance", observing that "the interplay on her face of fear, ignorance, curiosity, and sex is intensely dramatic." The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts agreed, nominating her for the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She was also nominated by the London Film Critics' Circle, the Phoenix Film Critics Society and the British Independent Film Awards for Best Actress.
Johansson was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in June 2004. In the same year, she voiced a role in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie and appeared in an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan titled A Good Woman, opposite Helen Hunt and Tom Wilkinson. A Good Woman was both a box office and a critical failure. The film, which only received a limited U.S. release, was criticized as a "misbegotten Hollywood-minded screen adaptation" with "an excruciating divide between the film's British actors (led by Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Campbell Moore), who are comfortable delivering Wilde's aphorisms ... and its American marquee names, Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson, [who have] little connection to the English language as spoken in the high Wildean style." She also appeared in the critically panned teen heist film The Perfect Score and in a supporting role opposite Topher Grace and Dennis Quaid in the better received In Good Company. Her performance in the dark Southern drama, A Love Song for Bobby Long, earned her a third Golden Globe for Best Actress nomination. Johansson was involved for a short time with the film Mission: Impossible III, but was not officially cast because of scheduling conflicts, although a falling out with the film's star, Tom Cruise, had been both widely reported and publicly denied. She was replaced by Keri Russell.
2005 - 2007
In July 2005, Johansson starred with Ewan McGregor in Michael Bay's science fiction film, The Island, in dual roles as Sarah Jordan and her clone, Jordan Two Delta. The film was a domestic box office bomb and received mixed critical reviews. In contrast, her role as Nola, the American actress with whom Chris (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is obsessed, in the Woody Allen-directed drama Match Point was well-received. The New York Times said "Ms. Johansson and Mr. Rhys-Meyers manage some of the best acting seen in a Woody Allen movie in a long time, escaping the archness and emotional disconnection that his writing often imposes." Mick LaSalle, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, said that Johansson "is a powerhouse from the word go", with a performance that "borders on astonishing." Johansson received her fourth Golden Globe nomination, and one from the Chicago Film Critics Association, for Best Supporting Actress.
In another collaboration with Allen, Johansson was cast opposite Hugh Jackman and Allen in the 2006 feature Scoop. While the film enjoyed a modest worldwide box office success, it received mixed reviews by critics. The New York Times called the film "not especially funny yet oddly appealing" and called parallels to The Thin Man, saying that while "Johansson is certainly no Myrna Loy", her "performance is all over the place ... but finally works for a film that is itself all over the place. Mr. Allen seems happy to just watch her strut her stuff, and after a while so are we." New York magazine said that "Johansson doesn’t have the natural buoyancy to play a screwball Nancy Drew" but "she’s smart enough to know what’s needed (a young Diane Keaton), and manages to rouse herself", while USA Today criticized "her delivery of Allenesque one-liners" as "clunky", and "sometimes, she seems in over her head playing opposite Allen." The same year, she appeared in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia, a film noir shot in Los Angeles and Bulgaria. Johansson later said that she was a De Palma fan and had wanted to work with him on the film, even though she thought that she was "physically wrong" for the part. Her reviews were mixed. CNN.com noted that Johansson "takes to the pulpy period atmosphere as if it were oxygen," whereas the Kalamazoo Gazette referred to Johansson as "miscast."
Johansson next appeared in the Christopher Nolan thriller The Prestige (2006) in a supporting role, again opposite Hugh Jackman as well as Christian Bale. Nolan, who described Johansson as possessing an "ambiguity... a shielded quality", said that he was "very keen" for her to play the role. Johansson said that she "loved working with [Nolan]", he was "incredibly focused and driven and involved, and really involved in the performance in every aspect." The film was both a critical and a worldwide box office success, recommended by the Los Angeles Times as "an adult, provocative piece of work." Also in 2006, Johansson starred in a short film directed by Bennett Miller and set to Bob Dylan's "When the Deal Goes Down...", released to promote Dylan's album, Modern Times.
Johansson starred in 2007's The Nanny Diaries alongside Laura Linney. The film performed only marginally well at the box office, and was critically panned. Johansson's reviews were mixed, with Variety saying she "essays an engaging heroine", while the The New Yorker criticized her for looking "merely confused" while "trying to give the material a plausible emotional center". In his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle said "there's something painful about watching Scarlett Johansson, who looks as if she never had an indecisive moment in her life, struggle to seem ineffectual."
2008 and beyond
2008 brought an upturn in critical reception for Johansson's performances. She starred in The Other Boleyn Girl opposite Natalie Portman and Eric Bana, a film which garnered mixed reviews for the film itself. Writing for Rolling Stone, Pete Travers criticized the film for moving "in frustrating herks and jerks", but praised Johansson and Portman, "What works is the combustible teaming of Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, who give the Boleyn hotties a tough core of intelligence and wit, swinging the film's sixteenth-century protofeminist issues handily into this one." Variety credited the cast as "almost flawless ... at the top of its game", citing "Johansson’s quieter Mary ... as the pic’s emotional center, her tender love story with the conflicted monarch evoking the only genuine feelings on display."
She filmed her third Woody Allen film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, in Spain, appearing opposite Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz. The film was one of Allen's most profitable films, appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008. Overall, the film received generally favorable reviews, and brought co-star Cruz numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Johansson was described as being "open and malleable" and "serves as a nice contrast to the [other actors]".
Johansson played a small supporting role as femme fatale Silken Floss, an ally of Samuel L. Jackson's villain Dr. Octopus, in Frank Miller's film noir comedy adaptation of The Spirit. The film, described as "a great-looking movie with an awkward balance of pulp noir and campy self-awareness" and "style without substance, style whirling in a senseless void", received almost universally poor reviews.
Johansson appeared in the role of Anna, a yoga instructor, in the 2009 ensemble cast of He's Just Not That Into You, with Jennifer Connelly, Bradley Cooper, Drew Barrymore and Kevin Connolly. The film was a box office success, but only gained average critical reception. The San Francisco Chronicle review noted that the film "never soars, but it never flags" yet lauds Johansson, saying "she has become a deft comic actress." The Los Angeles Times calls the film an "anti-romantic romantic comedy" and cites the scenario in which Johansson appears with Jennifer Connelly and Bradley Cooper as having "more meat than others", making it "one of the best." The Baltimore Sun criticized the film, saying it "stumbles somewhat when it tries to get serious", but praised Johansson for "proving she doesn't need Woody Allen to be funny."
In March 2009, Johansson signed on to play Black Widow in Iron Man 2 after a scheduling conflict forced Emily Blunt to drop out of the part. The film, slated for a May 2010 release is directed by Jon Favreau and also stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson and Sam Rockwell. Appearing at Comic-Con in San Diego, California on July 26, 2009, Johansson joked about her audition for the film, saying it consisted of "a couple of deep knee bends and lunges", but Favreau credited her with performing her own stunts: "All the fighting and wire work is her own. She worked really hard and it shows on the screen."
Johansson has appeared in advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein, L'Oreal and Louis Vuitton. After appearing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala with Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Johansson was announced as the face of the new Dolce and Gabbana make-up collection in early 2009. She made a personal appearance at the London store, Selfridges, on July 31, 2009, to help launch and promote the line.
In 2005, Johansson was considered for the role of Maria in Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End revival of The Sound of Music, though the role ultimately went to newcomer Connie Fisher after she won BBC's talent show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Released on May 8, 2006, Johansson sang the track "Summertime" for Unexpected Dreams – Songs from the Stars, a non-profit collection of songs recorded by Hollywood actors. She performed with The Jesus And Mary Chain for a special Coachella Reunion Show in Indio, California in April 2007.
In 2007, she appeared as the leading lady in Justin Timberlake's music video for "What Goes Around.../...Comes Around," nominated in August 2007 for video of the year at the MTV Video Music Awards. The video sparked rumors of a romance between Johansson and Timberlake.
In the summer of 2007, Johansson spent about a month in Maurice, Louisiana recording an album at Dockside Studio, a rural 12-acre (49,000 m2) complex. The album, consisting of one original song and ten cover versions of Tom Waits songs, was produced by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio and features David Bowie, members from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Celebration. Released on May 20, 2008, it was entitled Anywhere I Lay My Head. Reviews of the album were mixed to somewhat positive. Rolling Stone commented that her "voice is unremarkable and her pitch sometimes unsteady; she's a faintly goth Marilyn Monroe lost in a sonic fog." Conversely, some critics found it to be "surprisingly alluring", "a bravely eccentric selection", and "a brilliant album" with "ghostly magic". The album was named the "23rd best album of 2008" by NME and peaked at #1 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart and #126 on the Billboard 200 chart. Of her album, Johansson said, "I had this golden opportunity to record and thought I would do maybe an album of standards, because I’m not a songwriter. I’m a vocalist." Johansson said for her recording she "wanted to have space and [she] wanted to be in a remote place where all of us could just be ourselves and not worry about anyone trying to listen in or get in on that." Johansson said in an interview that she started listening to Tom Waits when she was 11 or 12. Of Tom Waits, Johansson said in an interview, "his melodies are so beautiful, his voice is so distinct and I had my own way of doing Tom Waits songs." In December 2008, MTV reported Johansson plans to follow-up Anywhere I Lay My Head with an album of all original music, saying, “I don’t think I’d do covers, so it’d be a project that I have to dedicate myself to. I feel like that’s something for the future.”
In 2009, Johansson covered Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye" for the soundtrack of He's Just Not That Into You. Due for release on September 8, 2009, she and singer/songwriter Pete Yorn recorded a collaborative album, Break Up, inspired by Serge Gainsbourg's duets with Brigitte Bardot.
Johansson rarely discusses her personal life with the press, saying "it's nice to have everybody not know your business." Johansson's ex-boyfriend and member of the band Steel Train, Jack Antonoff, wrote lyrics that refer to Johansson in the song "Better Love." She has been linked to many famous men, including Benicio del Toro, Jared Leto, Justin Timberlake, and her Black Dahlia co-star Josh Hartnett, though Johansson denies she had a relationship with del Toro. Johansson and Hartnett dated for about two years until the end of 2006, with Hartnett citing their busy lives as the reason for the split.
She started dating Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds in 2007, and on May 5, 2008, it was reported that the two were engaged. On September 27, 2008, Johansson and Reynolds were married at a quiet ceremony on Vancouver Island in Tofino, British Columbia. Earlier, Johansson expressed a concern about the potential conflict between the nature of human beings and the concept of monogamy. However, she has stated "contrary to popular belief... [I am] not promiscuous" and that she works "really hard" when she's in a relationship "to make it work in a monogamous way." She gets tested for HIV twice a year, and has said "it's part of being a decent human" and it is "just disgusting behavior when people don't. It's so irresponsible."
She has criticized the media and Hollywood for promoting an image that causes unhealthy diets and eating disorders among women, saying "that being ultra-thin is not sexy at all. Women shouldn't be forced to conform to unrealistic and unhealthy body images that the media promote."
Johansson is considered to be a modern sex symbol, and she regularly appears at the top of lists of the sexiest women in the world. Johansson appeared on the cover of the March 2006 issue of Vanity Fair in the nude alongside actress Keira Knightley and fashion designer Tom Ford. Maxim named Johansson #6 in their Hot 100 Issue in 2006; #3 in 2007 and #2 in 2008. In November 2006, Johansson was named "Sexiest Woman Alive" by Esquire. In February 2007, she was named the "Sexiest Celebrity" of the year by Playboy. During the filming of Match Point, director Woody Allen described Johansson as "sexually overwhelming", saying that he found it "very hard to be extra witty around a sexually overwhelming, beautiful young woman who is wittier than you are."
About her religious affiliation, Johansson described herself as Jewish when she was talking about Woody Allen. "I just adore Woody," she says. "We have a lot in common. We're New Yorkers, Jewish. We have a very easygoing relationship." She celebrates a "little of both" referring to Christmas and Hanukkah. She has stated that she dislikes it when celebrities thank God or Jesus in their award acceptance speeches.
Johansson is a Global Ambassador for the aid and development agency, Oxfam. In March 2008, a UK-based bidder paid £20,000 on an eBay auction to benefit Oxfam, winning a hair and makeup treatment, a pair of tickets and a chauffered trip to accompany Johansson on 20-minute date to the world premiere of He's Just Not That Into You.
Johansson is a Democrat and campaigned for John Kerry in the 2004 United States presidential election. About George W. Bush's reelection she said, "[I am] disappointed. I think it was a disappointment for a large percentage of the population." Johansson campaigned for Barack Obama, including appearances in Iowa on January 2, 2008, where her efforts were targeted at small groups of younger voters, and an appearance at Cornell College. and students at Central High School in St. Paul, Minnesota on Super Tuesday. Johansson appeared in the 2008 music video for Black Eyed Peas front man Will.i.am's song, "Yes We Can", directed by Jesse Dylan, a song inspired by Obama's speech following the 2008 New Hampshire primary. In addition to her political advocacy, Johansson has taken part in social advocacy as part of the anti-poverty campaign ONE which was organized by U2 lead singer Bono.
Biography from Wikipedia