Scarlett Johansson Explained Why She Thought Her Career Would Be Over Early

The 'Black Widow' actress opened up on what it was like to be hypersexualized by Hollywood at such a young age.

Scarlett Johansson attends the premiere of Illumination's "Sing 2" in Los Angeles.

Scarlett Johansson appeared on the Armchair Expert podcast hosted by Dax Shepard and Monica Padman on Oct. 10 and spoke on how she was treated early in her career, and what she thought it meant.

It started when she was cast for Lost in Translation in 2003. Johansson was 17 at the time and playing someone five years older.

“I think everybody thought I was older,” she recalled. “I got kind of pigeonholed into this weird, hypersexualized thing. It was like, ‘that’s the kind of career you have (because) these are the roles you’ve played.’ And I was like, ‘This is it?’”

She thinks the way she portrayed herself made her seem more mature than she was and led to her being hypersexualized at such a young age in Hollywood. It was “kind of scary,” she added.

“I kind of became objectified and pigeonholed in this way where I felt like I wasn’t getting offers for work for things that I wanted to do,” Johansson continued. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘I think people think I’m 40 years old.’ It somehow stopped being something that was desirable and something that I was fighting against.”

Shepard drew a parallel to Disney Channel stars and how they often get streamlined for innocent, young, cheery roles even after leaving the network. Their only way to build a career away from that narrative and those types of roles are to experience and showcase an extreme “breakout sexuality.”

Scarlett Johansson attends the 35th Annual American Cinematheque Awards.

Scarlett Johansson attends the 35th Annual American Cinematheque Awards.

Johansson, 37, is glad that times have changed for young actors now, pointing to Zendaya and Florence Pugh who are “allowed to be all these different things” and “much more dynamic” in different types of roles and genres.

“I’ve come to this realization that it’s important to understand progress and change when it’s really meaningful,” the Oscar nominee said. “It takes two steps forward and two steps back, and then it gets better and then it gets worse. It’s not finite. I think if you don’t leave room for people to figure it out, then the actual progressive change doesn’t really happen.”

Ananya Panchal


Ananya Panchal is a NYC-based Lifestyle & Trending News writer at SI Swimsuit. Before joining the Swim team, the Boston University Alum worked for culture & entertainment beats at Bustle, The San Francisco Chronicle and the TODAY Show. When Ananya is not writing or doom-scrolling on social media, she can be found playing sudoku, rewatching One Tree Hill or trying new restaurants. She's also a coffee and chocolate (separately) enthusiast.