Scarlett Johansson Talks About Being Hypersexualized

Scarlett Johansson says she began to be hypersexualized at age 17.

By Matthew Creith | Published

As far as major movie stars go, actor Scarlett Johansson may be regarded as today’s most bankable performer in high-profile franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, there was a time that the star of Black Widow was mostly objectified and hypersexualized at a young age early on in her career, as the actor recently confirmed during an interview with the Armchair Expert podcast. During the interview, podcast cohost Dax Shepard discussed Johansson’s body of work that includes the Sofia Coppola movie Lost in Translation, to which Johansson admits was a strange experience in that she was 17 years old at the time of filming and she was suddenly pegged as a sexual performer by the media upon the film’s release in 2003.

According to a report by Deadline, Scarlett Johansson talked to Dax Shepard and Monica Padman on their podcast, Armchair Expert, which detailed how Johansson felt objectified early in her career to the point that she had to start pushing back on roles being offered to her that were sexual in nature. Having started in the film business at a young age, she was thrust into the spotlight at 17 when she starred in Lost in Translation alongside Bill Murray, an actor and love interest that was 35 years her senior.

Noting during the interview that she was appalled by how many offers she was getting to play more adult roles even though she was a teenager at the time, Johansson hopes things have changed for successful actors like Zendaya by stating, “I think if you don’t leave room for people to figure it out, then the actual progressive change doesn’t really happen.”

After Lost in Translation opened in theaters in 2003 to great critical acclaim and accolades for both Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, Johansson started working with Woody Allen on a variety of films like Match Point and Vicky Christina Barcelona that further showcased the actor’s hypersexualized pigeonhole. She attempted to break away from this narrative in her career by taking to the Broadway stage in the Arthur Miller play A View from the Bridge, which earned the performer the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play in 2010.

scarlett johansson

The same year, Johansson’s international reach soared to new heights with global audiences when she entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe portraying Black Widow in Iron Man 2, opposite Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, and Samuel L. Jackson.

As further discussed on the Armchair Expert podcast this week, Scarlett Johansson has tried to move on from her early days as a sexual object for men’s desires, taking roles that speak to her as a married woman and mother of two. In 2019, she became one of only a handful of people to be nominated for two Academy Awards in the same year for acting, one for Marriage Story and the other for Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit.

Although she lost both awards, Johansson has seemed to be steadfast in recapturing her own career by appearing in ensemble movies like the upcoming Wes Anderson film Asteroid City, as well as the Kristin Scott Thomas-directed feature, My Mother’s Wedding.