Scarlett Johansson, born November 22nd, 1984
in New York City
is an actress who is incredibly beautiful and gifted beyond her years. Scarlett's edge and sophistication is something most typical Hollywood vixen
actresses display maybe once in their entire careers, if that. She has shown her remarkable skill in a wide range of versatile roles, all while retaining the sweet likeability of her youth. Not to mention showing up on red carpet
s around the world looking like a classic cinema starlet.
Scarlett was raised along with her twin brother as the youngest of four children. Right from the early age of three years old, Scarlett had an interest in performing. She studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute for Young People and her mother used to take her to auditions quite frequently in New York City. When she was eight, she made her professional acting debut in Sophistry, an off-Broadway production starring Ethan Hawke.
In 1994, Hollywood came knocking. And a nine year old Scarlett made her screen debut in Rob Reiner's "North." Yet Scarlett's part was rather small, and "North" ended up being the darkest of dark spots on Academy Award nominee Rob Reiner's career. In 1995 she played Kate Armstrong, an eleven year old girl in the middle of a possible rape case, in Just Cause opposite a fantastic cast including Sean Connery and Laurence Fishburne. While Scarlett hinted at her later range in characters, the film was generally ignored. Scarlett once again appeared in a disappointing high profile project when she played Emily in If Lucy Fell, Eric Schaeffer's disappointing 1996 follow-up to his independent film success My Life's in Turnaround.
However, Scarlett opened eyes that same year with Manny & Lo. Only pushing twelve years old during production, Scarlett played the younger sister of a pregnant teenager (Aleksa Palladino) in a foster home who kidnap a clerk working at a baby supplies store (Mary Kay Place) in hopes that she'll be able to help them out. Scarlett was nominated for Best Female Lead at the 1997 Independent Spirit Awards for her endearing and aggressive performance.
1997 didn't hold much for Scarlett though. Just a small role in another Eric Schaeffer film as a Little Girl in "Fall" and a role as Molly Pruitt, the older sister in the cheesy sequel Home Alone 3.
1998 saw yet another breakout for Scarlett though. Her role as Grace MacLean in Robert Redford's new film, The Horse Whisperer. Her performance as the injured and traumatized youth was perfectly bittersweet. The film credits her with an "Introducing Scarlett Johansson" credit, and although it was actually her seventh film, in a way, it was slightly fitting, seeing as it gave her a name in Hollywood that was not yet household...but certainly rising.
Her performance was honored with a YoungStar Award for Best Actress in a Dramatic Film, a Chicago Film Critics Association Awards nomination for Most Promising Actress, a Young Artist Awards nomination and a Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination for Favorite Supporting Actress - Drama/Romance.
Yet, after the forgettable My Brother the Pig in 1999, Scarlett showed the world she was a force to be reckoned with in 2000s Ghost World. She played Rebecca, the sharp tongued yet sincere, beautiful and scene-stealing best friend to the lead of the film. This Academy Award nominated film launched her to a higher ground and she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 2002 Online Film Critics Awards, she won 2nd place to Cameron Diaz for Best Supporting Actress at the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards and won the award for Best Supporting Performance, Female at the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards.
Scarlett went on to win two Young Artist Awards for her work in the 2001 independent film success An American Rhapsody which after she played Rachel 'Birdy' Abundas in a featured role in the Coen Brothers chronically-overlooked film The Man That Wasn't There. In 2002 she paid her Hollywood dues with the blockbuster flop Eight Legged Freaks, which came out the same year she graduated from The Professional Children's School in Manhattan.
Scarlett Johansson had already been labeled as a "break out star," but in 2003, Scarlett absolutely exploded.
First there was Lost in Translation, Scarlett's finest film and finest performance to date. Scarlett played the character of Charlotte, a recent college grad with a quiet and honest subtlety and a mature charm that few actresses her age (she was 17 during production) could have conveyed. Her on-screen chemistry with Bill Murray's character, a man well over thirty years her senior, was incredibly sincere, light-hearted and endearing, and as always, decades ahead of most performers her own age. Frame after frame of Lost in Translation, Scarlett beams with youth, beauty and an incredible potent charm and charisma.
Only weeks after the release of Lost in Translation, Scarlett's starring role in the adaptation of Tracy Chevalier's 1999 best seller The Girl with a Pearl Earring was released. Scarlett was pitch perfect in the title role of Griet, the muse for the 17th century artist Johannes Vermeer, played by Colin Firth. In a very controlled performance in what was a rather sophisticated film, Scarlett once again beamed with the subtle expression she displayed in Lost in Translation, yet her portrayals of the two characters cannot even be compared, as both have striking differences.
This one-two punch was finally Scarlett's huge break. She became one of the youngest (if not the youngest) actress to ever be nominated for two Golden Globe awards in one year when she was nominated for both performances. She was also nominated for both performances at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards and won Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in Lost in Translation. She also won Best Actress at the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards and the Venice Film Festival, was given the Rising Star Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and won the New Generation award at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards.
Yet in a tragic debacle, the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (who runs the Academy Awards), split the vote for Scarlett and she received no nomination for either performance. The vote was split four ways, with some voting for her as Best Actress in either "Lost in Translation" or Best Supporting Actress in "Lost in Translation" or as Best Actress in "Girl with a Pearl Earring" or Best Supporting Actress in "Girl with a Pearl Earring."
Scarlett then starred in the forgettable The Perfect Score early in 2004. In late 2004 she had another flurry of action at theatres as two films featuring Scarlett in supporting roles saw limited releases. Her performance in the overlooked A Love Song for Bobby Long scored Scarlett her third Golden Globe nomination. She was also the lead female in In Good Company, Paul Weitz's follow-up to the Academy Award nominated About A Boy. Also in late 2004 she did her first animation voice work as Mindy in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.
Ever the work-a-holic, she has a number of promising roles coming up in the next couple of years. Her slate for 2005 includes A Good Woman, which is an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan co-starring Academy Award winners Helen Hunt and Tom Wilkinson. She'll star in Brian de Palma's adaptation of the bleak James Ellroy novel The Black Dahlia. Scarlett will also appear in her first big budget action film when she appears in Michael Bay's latest The Island. She also has landed the role of Catherine in a film adaptation of Arthur Miller's play A View From the Bridge.
In a recent announcement that makes more sense than any casting decision I've heard in quite sometime, Scarlett will play the lead in the 36th film from master auteur Woody Allen titled Match Point. Seeing as Woody Allen can direct women better than any man (and most women), this should be quite a performance. Not to mention he is so satisfied with her work there is already another movie in works for a 2006 release that will be the 2nd of hopefully many Scarlett/Woody collaborations.
Personally, I see more great things in Scarlett Johansson than I've ever seen in any actress her age, or any age for that matter. While you never know with anything in show biz I do believe that Scarlett Johansson has a chance to be one of the great performers of the 21st Century.
Feburary 2004 article in movieline magazine: "Scarlett Woman" by Stephen Rebello
"The Scarlett Johansson Fan Page" www.geocities.com/~scarlettj