By Mark McKee | Published
Being typecast is a problem many Hollywood actors face, and while few of them can break out of the role they have been pigeonholed into, even fewer become more prominent names after doing so. According to Variety, Marvel Cinematic Universe actor Scarlett Johansson believed she was typecast, and groomed into being a bombshell actor, and couldn’t get out of it. Whether it is Danny Trejo as the angry, tough guy, Morgan Freeman as the wise old teacher, or Hugh Grant as the lovable, British heartthrob, once you make a name for yourself as one thing, it can feel impossible to break free; and for Johansson, that was as the oversexualized subject of desire.
When Scarlett Johanson sat down with Variety, she explained that when she was 18 or 19 years old, she was doing films like Lost in Translation with Bill Murray and The Girl with the Pearl Earring with Colin Firth. She felt that during that time, she was discovering herself and her own sexuality while constantly playing the other woman or the object of desire. Tea Black Widow actor felt cornered in being typecast into that bombshell actor, known for her looks, and she couldn’t get out of it.
She eventually got out of that corner, though, as you can see her in films like Marriage Story with Adam Driver, where she shows an emotional depth not seen before in her career, or Taika Watiti’s jojo rabbit, where she allowed her quirky nature to thrive. Of course, that wasn’t without fighting through the constant barrage of roles that continuously played on that part of her, from Don Jon with Joseph Gordon Levitt, to even having her voice be the object of desire when Joaquin Phoenix falls for it in Her. She told Variety that it would have been easy to look at what she was doing and think that it was working, but that kind of career burns bright and quick, and then there is nothing left for you.
Scarlett Johansson worked to turn her career around by using her longest-running character in the MCU, Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, to show that she was more than a face and a body. But even at the beginning of her run, when Marvel was still trying to figure out how to use female characters as anything other than the arm candy for their heroes, Johansson’s screen time was often used as a romantic interest, or implied with tension between no less than four of her male co-stars. She described her character as underdeveloped and hypersexualized, but she worked with Jon Favreau and Kevin Feige to create more depth and progression.
Sean Connery could never get away from James Bond, Vin Diesel will forever be talking about family in muscle cars, and Matthew McConaughey will always have fans utter, “alright, alright, alright.” Having fans know you for something is how you become a household name, but if you are not careful, you can easily be pigeonholed into one role for your entire career. Scarlett Johanson didn’t accept that, and she is now one of Hollywood’s most talented and sought-after actresses.