Before she mesmerised the cinema world in ‘Lost in Translation’, she was already an ingenue in ‘Ghost World’. Now the action star in Luc Besson’s latest femme-fatale flick ‘Lucy’, Scarlett Johansson has certainly grown from her youthful roles in the early 2000s.
inSing picks out some of the highlights from the filmography of one of Hollywood’s reigning sex symbols.
An ingenue in ‘Ghost World’ (2001)
It is understandably difficult to picture one of the world’s most desirable women as a teenage social misfit. But that was what a teenage Scarlett Johansson was in Terry Zwigoff’s ‘Ghost World’.
In this coming-of-age indie movie, she plays Rebecca, best friend to Thora Birch’s Enid, both being social outcasts in high school. The two eventually find themselves embarking on different paths. Johansson in a cult classic that explores the realities of growing up – definitely a classic worth watching.
Becoming an adult in ‘Lost in Translation’ (2003)
She might have been only 17 when she was cast in Sofia Coppola’s classic, but ‘Lost in Translation’ was Scarlett Johansson’s breakout adult role. Unsure of her future and left alone in her Tokyo hotel room by her photographer husband, Johansson’s character quickly becomes friends with the ageing movie star played by Bill Murray, and the two display much chemistry as they explore the Japanese capital.
Despite her age, Johansson’s mature and impressive performance (she won a BAFTA for this) helped pave a smooth transition to an adult acting career.
An iconic work of art in ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ (2003)
She dyed her eyebrows to better resemble the ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ in Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting, and it paid off; the role helped 19-year-old Johansson snare two, yes, two BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Best Actress nominations that year (the other nomination was for ‘Lost in Translation’, for which she won).
Johansson was not quite a spitting image of the original painting, but we doubt that anyone dislikes the Scar-Jo version of Vermeer’s masterpiece.
A sci-fi bombshell in ‘The Island’ (2005)
This movie presents a world where there are two Scarlett Johanssons. That would be enough to sell the movie. Proving that she has the looks and athleticism to handle an action thriller as its leading lady, Johansson stars opposite Ewan McGregor in a futuristic world where their characters live in an isolated facility, believing the outside world is toxic. They soon out they are part of an evil scheme to provide organ donations.
Here, she was an action star in the making.
The alluring assistant in ‘The Prestige’ (2006)
With Christopher Nolan directing, Johansson joined the cast of another thriller, this time as the assistant and lover of a magician played by Hugh Jackman. If the assistant’s job is to misdirect the audience’s attention and be an eye-catching living prop, then Scar-Jo is quite a natural at accomplishing the task.
The movie is admittedly one of Nolan’s more confusing works, and yes, more so than even ‘Inception’. But who doesn’t love a few magic tricks, especially those performed by the Jackman-Johansson duo?
Showing her domestic side in ‘The Nanny Diaries’ (2007)
Scar-Jo plays a young woman figuring out what to do with her life. This time, she tries her hand at being a nanny to a wealthy family’s neglected son, who is probably the only boy on the planet who does not immediately appreciate being cared for by the charming figure that she is.
This is disappointingly one of her worst movies, but it will suffice if you are looking to see her act in a lighthearted comedy. A trivia: This is Johansson’s second film with Chris Evans before their Marvel days. Perhaps that is why they worked so well together in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’.
The other woman in ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ (2008)
In a nutshell: Scarlett Johansson versus Natalie Portman for the heart of Eric Bana, with a historical spin. And yes, to Marvel fans, it is also Black Widow versus Jane Foster for the (previous) Hulk. To spice things up, Johansson and Portman play sisters.
This was not one of Johansson’s better films, but it did prepare her for a somewhat similar role in the more critically acclaimed ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ later that year. For Scar-Jo, 2008 was definitely the year of love triangles in movies.
The sexiest voice ever in ‘Her’ (2013)
She put Siri and all the other intelligent personal assistant softwares to shame. How will her fans ever be satisfied with their automated voice systems after hearing one with her distinctively husky voice?
Even though she did not physically appear in the movie, her presence is always felt. Her voice role was so well-received that she was nominated for many Best Supporting Actress awards, and even won a handful of them. With ‘Her’, Scar-Jo seemingly took her acting career to the next level.
Lethal femme fatale in Marvel films
Scarlett Johansson dons a skin-tight leather suit and red hair to play comic-book character Black Widow. But since joining the Marvel universe, the actress’ star is shining brighter. After showing off her kicks as Natasha Romanoff in ‘Iron Man 2’ (2010), Scar-Jo later became the only female member of The Avengers before reuniting with Chris Evans for the fourth time in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’.
She is arguably Marvel’s biggest female star, if we don’t count any of those in X-Men. Talk about girl power.
Deadly alien seductress in 'Under The Skin' (2013)
A twisted blend of horror, sexuality and science-fiction, Jonathan Glazer's 'Under The Skin' is about a predatory extraterrestrial driving around Scotland as she tries to seduce men in order to take their body parts. An almost unrecognisable Johansson is fabulously creepy as the sexy alien. The movie was shot mostly guerilla-style with non-actors unknowingly taking part in the film. Throughout the movie, the actress had to improvise her conversations with random Scottish passers-by while trying not give away her real identity as a Hollywood star.
This is the most ambitious role Johansson has taken, a reversal on the sultry roles she usually plays. And yes, 'Under the Skin' also marks the actress' first role where she goes fully nude in there somewhere.
The action star in ‘Lucy’ (2014)
She finally has her own leading role in a sci-fi film as Lucy, as if she has become the most evolved human on the planet.
And who better to mould her into the ideal action heroine than Luc Besson, the brains behind ‘Fifth Element’ and ‘La Femme Nikita’?
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