Scarlett Johansson: “I know what it’s like to struggle as an actor”


It’s not that Scarlett Johansson is not being gracious to her harshest critics – she is. There are some people who have been sniping about her victory at the Tony Awards two weekends ago. Scarlett won a Tony for her performance in A View From the Bridge, and now people are saying that she only won because she’s a movie star and she has a recognizable name, and that the Tonys should be about awarding great stage actors. ScarJo tells her critics: “I pounded the pavement for years and I know what it’s like to struggle as an actor. A lot of it is luck and, certainly, a lot of it is opportunity — and the lack of that. So, I totally understand the frustration there.” Um… wasn’t she a child actor who transitioned gracefully into adult roles with parts in Ghost World and The Man Who Wasn’t There? Sure, I’m sure she did work hard, I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is that I doubt she struggled like all of those starving actors in New York and LA, hoping they get a dog food commercial so they can have union medial insurance.

Scarlett Johansson is firing back at critics who argue the actress is undeserving of a Tony Award for her role in Broadway’s A View From the Bridge.

“I pounded the pavement for years and I know what it’s like to struggle as an actor. A lot of it is luck and, certainly, a lot of it is opportunity — and the lack of that,” Johansson told Broadway World. “So, I totally understand the frustration there.”

The 25-year-old actress’ win prompted fellow Broadway star Hunter Foster to start a Facebook campaign, “Give The Tonys Back To Broadway.” Foster believes Johansson’s Hollywood status was the main reason behind her victory earlier this month, preventing Broadway veterans from taking home a trophy.

“The actors we’ve seen this season that we recognize from film — Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Liev Schreiber and Catherine Zeta-Jones, etc. — have not only made a huge impact on ticket sales but have given tour de force performances and all started their careers as stage actors, dedicating themselves to making an impression in the theater,” Johansson argued. “This goes to show that actors are actors, whatever the outlet, and with perseverance and drive, can cross the boundaries of the medium.”

Still, the Iron Man 2 bombshell admits she can relate to the frustrations that Foster and other critics have expressed — but she’s making no apologies.

“A lot of my friends who are struggling actors are going through the same thing. But, I can’t apologize for it. I have worked my ass off to get to where I am so I understand that struggle,” Johansson explained. “For me, it’s more about hiring the right person for the job. If somebody is cast because they are a name but they’re not right for the job, well, it’s very frustrating.”

[From Us Weekly]

See, the other part I do agree with, her argument that movie stars shouldn’t be disregarded or discounted for stage work when they just want to improve their technique and their credibility as actors. And I think ScarJo is taking the hit that was probably meant for Denzel and Catherine Zeta-Jones too, it’s just that Zeta and Denzel didn’t deign to give an interview about the criticism. As long as actors crave credibility and challenge, there will be movie stars on Broadway. And it is good for Broadway – it helps with the struggling New York theatres, and it helps keep people employed. Plus, it just feels like people are Kanye-ing ScarJo – she should get a few weeks to enjoy her victory without it being pissed on by theatre bitches.

June 13, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - SCARLETT JOHANSSON arriving at The American Theatre Wing's 64th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on 06-13-2010.  2010..K65169HMc. © Red Carpet Pictures

June 13, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - Actress SCARLETT JOHANSSON attends the 64th Annual Tony Awards held at Radio City Music Hall. © Red Carpet Pictures

Header: ScarJo at the Tonys on June 13, 2010. Credit: WENN.

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47 Responses to “Scarlett Johansson: “I know what it’s like to struggle as an actor””

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  1. denise says:

    OH yeah Scarlet life is hard for you. Let me see, you have an awesome career, you’re beautiful, have a rocking bod, and are married to Ryan Reynolds. Yea sounds like a real struggle.

  2. Shay says:

    You have to correct your information in your weekly links. Australia didn’t ELECT its first female prime minister. She was instated after the federal political party decided to give Kevin Rudd the heave ho. There was no election by citizens.

  3. lucy2 says:

    She’s been working in films since she was 10 years old, and has worked steadily ever since, usually starring in at least 2 films a year if not more. She never had to have any other job to support herself while trying to audition, never had her rent and food money dependent on getting a role. Sorry, but she has NO idea what it’s like to really struggle or “pound the pavement” as an actor!

  4. Lara says:

    Funny that she would get criticised the most because of of these three (Denzel, Catherine and her) she’s the one that got the best reviews.
    Catherine on the other hand didn’t fare so well.

  5. meme says:

    I like her but seriously honey you know nothing about what pounding the pavement for years is like.

  6. Cue says:

    “I pounded the pavement for years”…

    Yeah, mmhmm.

    Anyone ever see this trick in jeans and a t-shirt? I wonder what she looks like in casual clothing attire. All I ever see her in are dresses and made-up..even for the Craig Ferguson show. Just wondering how ‘rocking’ her body is in jeans.

  7. Ben says:

    Denise, she didn’t say life is hard. She said she knows what it’s like to struggle as an actor (which I disagree with)
    and she said she’s worked her ass off to get to where she is (which I agree with).

    You completely miscomprehended what she said in you cynicism.

  8. bite me says:

    OT..heres the thing, even though scarjo is a working actress she has never been a box office draw… lost in translation was so horrible and match point, sweet lord… however people consider her to be a serious actress

  9. Oi says:

    (Can I criticize her eye makeup?) I never thought she was a great actress, and yes, looks helped. What do her co stars say about her and her work ethic? I don’t think she really knows what it means to be in dog food commercials, but if she’s really trying she does deserve praise. And I don’t think winning an award should be about past struggles or successes. It should strictly be about the performance. I know that’s hard.

  10. denise says:

    @ Ben

    Struggling as an actor would make life hard for an actor would’nt it? And of course there’s cynicism in my comment.
    Just pointing out, things could be worse. She’s got a pretty sweet gig.

  11. KJ says:

    Isn’t it a little presumptuous to assume that because she was a child actor that became a movie star that her fame was handed to her? I’m sure that attempting to transition from a child actor to a legitimate actor is exceedingly difficult. Trying to have people take you seriously after being a cute kid, especially given that most child actors become has-beens with serious issues, has to be tough.

    You all are making the same assumptions that everyone else is, that she’s never faced any sort of “Struggle” to be taken seriously. Since when are all of you BFF with her? Do you know her personally and know her life? The fact that she felt the need to make a public statement about the criticism tells me that she’s probably faced that kind of hate before. I’m not saying she was eating ramen noodles in some rat infested NYC studio apartment, but guess what? That’s not the only kind of struggle an actor can face. That’s a broad term that could mean any number of difficulties, and while I’m sure she did have it easier than a fair amount of actors, shame on you guys for acting like you KNOW she didn’t struggle. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize everyone was so well-verse on ScarJo’s entire existence.

  12. gabs says:

    okay i didnt see the play so i cant comment on if she deserved it, BUT I did see her in Iron Man 2 and other films where she is so DULL.Shes not a bad actress but shes so bland and she and ryan are always complaining about attention. I agree that she shouldnt just be discredited because shes a movie star but the pounding the pavement is dumb because she worked steadily since she was a kid. Plus ill never forget when she covered her face with a scarf because of a pap. what a dummy. PS- I agree eye makeup is AWFUL

  13. Strawberry says:

    I will give her that she’s been fortunate in a lot of her choices of movies to be surrounded by good co-stars and choosing good directors. I think Woody Allen gave a sort of back-handed dig to her a few years ago when he said something about her having such a beautiful face it was a great ‘blank canvas’ to project his movie onto ;)

  14. OC lady says:

    Whenever an actress wins something, jealousy rears its ugly head. Then, people start with their criticisms (some legitimate, while much of it sounds like envy and spite). And, then comes the backlash. Why is that the case? I find it SO sad, actually.

    Men don’t seem to snipe at each other like this. They seem to have better things to do than critique each other over silly things. I don’t think any of the male stars who’ve won Oscars EVER faced the same criticism as the women who’ve won. The tabloids (written by and catering to women) fuel the flames of it, too. Sad.

  15. Nate says:

    @ OC Lady – Way to perpetuate the frustrating myth that only humans capable of jealousy and pettiness are women. If you actually read the article, you would have realized the person who is running the campaign bitching about ScarJo’s win is a man named Hunter Foster.

  16. Cue says:


    No, I doubt any of the comments here are from her ‘BFF’s”….
    But, puleaaase! The girl was in ‘Lost in Translation’ in 2003. That was 7 years-ago. That and ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring” really set her career off, imo. She was, what 17-18 years-old?

    Pounding the pavement?

  17. original kate says:

    scar’s been “pounding the pavement for years”, has she? she started acting when she was, like, 12 – how much pounding could she have done as a child?

  18. LOVE ANGELINA says:

    @KJ Your totally right and I was gonna say something to that affect. I can’t think of one actor who doesn’t struggle at some point until they get noticed. There must have been countless times she was up for a role never got it but worked hard to get there. The sacrifices her family made to help her realize her dreams. A lot of child actors don’t make the transition very well or become big stars, yea there are some but there are countless kids who act and never make it this far. It is a struggle. She is a sweet girl.

  19. Deniz says:

    Her eyeshadow is gorgeous!

  20. Laura says:

    I remember Home Alone 3….

    She can’t act, but i don’t hold that against her. Her husband is banging.

  21. OC lady says:

    @Nate. Sad to say, but it seems to work that way at the moment.

    Show me the male hate and envy for each other. I don’t see it on the internet, or my boyfriend or guy friends saying things like “Oh that Brad Pitt, he really thinks he’s something. He’s so smug.” Yet, I’ve heard my female friends say stuff like that about celebs they don’t like (like ScarJo, Roberts, Giselle, etc). I don’t see the men criticizing Oscar winners like Denzel, Paul, Sean, etc. And, Denzel and Sean are known a-holes. My boyfriend still loves Sean. While the backlash that Kate Winslett got after she won awards really surprised me. The press and people on the internet laughed at her for saying “Gather, gather, gather.” I’m not saying it’s all women, but there are a number of women who do it. And, the press feeds into it, stirring up more drama.

    Recently, there was an article on Jezebel about women who are “backlash proof.” Then, they cited Meryl Streep, etc. SNL recently did a skit on how self-effacing Streep is. Basically, she’s backlash proof because she’s talented, older, and is as humble as pie (can’t say anything to fuel the hate).

    Some of the posters there noted that men are never targets in the same way. The only male backlash I’ve seen has been Tom Cruise And, he had to do A LOT to earn that backlash. All women have to do is say a few wrong things and earn an award. So, I’m not the only one who has noticed that it’s usually women who are scrutinized by the tabloids, the press, and by each other much more than men usually are. So, the ultimate point is that women have to behave in a fake or stereotypical way (be the sweetheart, say nothing uppity, etc) and the press and some women will like you. Don’t behave accordingly and it’s backlash city. I think it’s sad–that’s all.

  22. I Choose Me says:

    @KJ. I couldn’t agree with you more and this despite the fact that I haven’t really enjoyed her in anything I’ve seen her in to date. The most I can do is damn her with faint praise by saying, at least she’s better than Alba. I do have mad respect for her for doing broadway though, it means she’s serious about and trying to improve her craft. Future roles will tell.

  23. padiddle says:

    It’s a little presumptuous to assume she never struggled – we only know what films she WAS in – we have no idea how many movies she auditioned for and was rejected, how many great roles she wanted but wasn’t right for the part. I think that kind of rejection definitely gives one life lessons, and besides, the whole thing sounds like this Foster character is a whiny bitch who is mad he/she didn’t win. Sour grapes?

  24. Zelda says:

    Ugh. I find her boring on film and really enamoured of herself in interviews.

    And these comments support the impression I get of her as someone who has no clue about the real world.

  25. RastaPasta says:

    I like her acting, love her style, am happy she won a Tony, but her comment about struggling was vacuous.

  26. Mare says:

    She always plays the same role – Lost in Translation, Match Point, The Nanny Diaries, He’s Just Not That Into You, Vicky Cristina Barcelona – always some young, sexy and confused girl who doesn’t know what to do with herself and want’s to be an artist but has no great talent. Always the same.

  27. vi says:

    i ususally like scarjo but please, she didn’t do a whole lot of struggling. she’d have been better off keeping her mouth shut. not to mention she got a job that a highly trained professional stage actor would have probably been better at but she puts bums on seats because people want to see a celebrity up close.

  28. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    The ‘Women vs Women’ issue is a difficult one, because we know that women pit themselves against other women a fair bit. A lot of pejoratives are hurled at them that men don’t have to endure, so it reflects badly on whatever kind of ‘sisterhood’ we claim to value.

    Still, men aren’t pitted against each other in the same way as women are, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to gag when every single magazine article rips the clothing off of its cover model and spends the entirety of the article salivating breathlessly over the most beautiful, funny, down to earth, intelligent, likeable, humble, spiritual, giving, sexy and talented person who ever lived. If anything doesn’t go 100 per cent well for this particular Venus in Botox, it’s because we’re too stupefied by her perfection to allow her to rise to her natural place in the heavens. Admittedly, I rarely buy magazines–it seems like a waste to spend all of that money on ads, pictures of ugly things I can’t afford, and rolling my eyes and thinking, ‘Oh, shutup’.

    So, whenever we have a complaint about an actress or just plain don’t like her (which is allowed), it’s only ever interpreted as a reflection of our own insecurities and failures of humanity. In essence, women are shamed out of even feeling like they have a right towards dissent because our sexual jealousy impairs our judgement. I can’t speak for famous actresses, but either their egos are so puffed up, or they know that this acrimony exists, so they can say/do any manner of insufferable things and fall back on the ‘women are jealous haters, we should be supporting each other’ argument. But it’s not an argument, really. It’s a trite and paternalistic cliche, even if it sometimes does prove to be true, which it does. It’s not just non-famous women who are playing the game, but they’re actresses, it’s their stock in trade.

  29. Nate says:

    @OC Lady – Your reply to me was very well written, therefore I am able to understand your point and admit I agree with your statement. I was reacting to what I believed to be a blanket statement in your first post. I am known to be hyper-sensitve to blanket statements at times. What can I say?

    Anyway, in other news, I am a long time lurker of Jezebel. I saw the Meryl Streep article, but passed over it. I think I am going to go read it now…

  30. Jeri says:

    Well lets tear her career apart. What do we think she deserves? Wah! Wah! Wah! Jeez, give it up.

    That movie “Dick” she was in w/Kristen Dunst (sp?) was good. I expected to be bored but it was really cute.

    Not saying this means she’s a great actress, just dipping into reality a bit.

  31. ChelseaD says:

    I like SJ, but I admit she could be a much better actress if she just took on some more daring roles, and stopped going for ‘pretty’ roles like The Spirit and Iron Man 2. She’s only 25, so maybe when she gets around into her 30′s she’ll start getting some more unconventional roles. It’s good that she shows she’s serious by appearing in an Arthur Miller play, though.

  32. Liana says:

    “I pounded the pavement for years”…

    I’m STILL pounding the pavement. And it sucks when it pounds back.

    She was actually quite good in “A View From the Bridge” and I think she deserved her Tony. She won because the panel (around 30 Broadway professionals give or take, no one who would be starstruck by a screen actor, in all honesty) agreed she won.

  33. Zoe says:

    Unless you all were there, I don’t think you can even begin to claim you know what her experience was as an actor. Having once been a working actor myself (though not as successful as Scarlett is by any means), I know what that process is and what it takes out of you, and I’m sure she did it just like everyone else. Just because she got a few roles as a kid doesn’t mean she wasn’t busting her @$$ auditioning constantly and hearing no, and so on throughout her life. She did end up with roles eventually but in between I’m sure she struggled as much as any others do. And I’m sure she did side jobs in between to support herself in the meantime during those breaks like all struggling artists do. Also, I think it’s so funny when people mention things like ‘oh, you have it so tough, you are beautiful and married to Ryan Reynolds, poor you…” This just screams of jealousy and frankly, being unrealistic. Just because you are beautiful or married someone who is doesn’t mean you have any less problems than anyone else, in fact it creates new problems on top of ones that are already there. Just because someone gets successful or wealthy or famous doesn’t mean they have it all, the grass is always greener. They are just as worthy of my empathy as anyone else, being humans after all.

  34. OC lady says:

    @Mama. Good points.

    I’m more interested in the media angle of it all rather than women can be their own worst enemy cliche. I think in close quarters men can compete with each other but they do it in more direct ways, since it’s more acceptable for them. With women, the sweetheart
    /witch thing still remains, so some women still resort to indirect methods of confrontation rather than be called a nasty name. The internet, however, gives people the freedom to say things with no repurcussions, so people let loose. It’s hard to tell what people really believe or if they’re just venting?

    I think the media profits in all of this manufactured drama. And, I kind of think that it’s more of a celeb scapegoating sold to women. In other words, I don’t think it’s all that real. On the internet, people get sucked into dramas that they might normally ignore. It’s the media who takes a celeb quote/action, reads into it, blows it out of proportion, and then asks you to “pick a side.” Then, they keep feeding the story with another angle, another interview, more information, etc.

    Think of how long some of the stories have been drawn out. The Angie vs. Jen thing is 6 years old and still going. Last I heard, Jen wore a dress with a slit, and the media was all over her for copying Angie!? They add to the drama, and then reap the profits out of the reaction. I think these stories would have died yrs ago if it wasn’t for the internet. The internet is like a self-perpetuating drama machine. I don’t remember the pre-internet celeb dramas going on for this long.

    And, it also works in politics, too. Sarah Palin just twittered what? Huffington Post is like a gossip blog for politicos.

    It’s an interesting phenomena. I wonder how long the media can keep these stories going? Sorry for the long post–it’s just my observation–that’s all.

  35. Canucklehead says:

    I saw Iron Man 2

    She was struggling quite a bit.

    Look past the boobs/looks/etc and she seems incredibly dull.

  36. MooHoo says:

    I think she got a lucky break with Lost in Translation. That was her Pretty Woman moment and it made her the mega star she is today. I loved that film and she was sweet in it, but in the films I have seen her in since then,I found her wooden (girl with pearl earring was silly anyway, that futuristic thing with Ewan McGregor). I haven’t seen vicky C. Barcelona. Maybe she is good in that. Zeta Jones was on stage since she was a kid and her early career was west end London.

  37. Zelda says:

    I agree with “mama”…
    Why, if I don’t like someone, am I jealous?
    F*ck sisterhood–I have opinions of my own. I don’t feel the need to support her mindlessly just because we both have vaginas. A woman’s mind is able to contemplate other women outside the realm of competition–including sorting out whom we do and do not like based on their personality and/or skill.
    In this case, the empress has no clothes. No matter how good she looks naked.

  38. M says:

    Australians elect a Parliament, not a president. The Parliament elects the prime minister who sits as the will of the parliament.
    It’s countries like America that elect a president, you’re getting confused.

  39. Johnthing says:

    Scar practically jumped over her husband to grab her co-star after she won. Naomi did not look pleased.

  40. normade says:

    Scar jo is ok if she just plays the sexy girl in a modern setting (match point/vcb), but whenever the role requires something else she does not cut it. She was HORRIBLE in Black Delila and The Other Boleyn girl

  41. vi says:

    Jeri, she wasn’t in that movie. that was michelle williams

  42. Jeri says:

    Thanks. You’re right. But it was cute.

  43. Lavon Ersery says:

    Some of the images are not displaying properly but, the website still looks great. I have been visiting this site for a couple of weeks now and i’m really impressed with the content. What is the rss feed address?

  44. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    We’re definitely in agreement. You also pointed something out to me that I failed to address in my first post. Humanity is built on competition, men simply aren’t required to coquette their way through the battle. The manner in which rivalries are perpetuated, in what arenas, how they’re perceived, and who wins/how.

    I think that there is much more insidiousness in female rivalries within the context of we’re all discussing here, because within the context of these arguments, it’s tacitly understood that in the end, the struggles are for male attention and approval. Men, on the other hand, have been generally regarded as being far more upfront about their compettition and the desires driving them–the assertion or prowress and dominance. Maybe this means that similar pursuits are viewed as being duplicitous before they don’t state their arrival or intent. Something of a moving target, I guess?

    @Zelda, I loved that last line, it just sums up the kit and kaboodle into a perfect gem of a sentence! Women don’t debate or differ, and there is nothing less sexist that taking a woman to task for her statements, beliefs or actions in this big mean civilization of patrolineal descent. Nope, we’re all silly little girls catfighting our way to nothing. Know this on the topic of said sentence: I’m taking it and claiming it as my own. If you have a problem with this, it’s likely because you’re a gel-lizz h8tr with boobie insecurities, so I will not countenance your dissent.

  45. danceprancer says:

    Please… Scarlett Johansson has NEVER had to struggle or work for anything or earn anything in her whole charmed life..she ONLY won a Tony b/c she is Scarlett Johansson-NOT b/c she deserved it!..Plus,she’s ALWAYS used her looks and boobs to get ahead and get what she wants-both w/movies AND w/men!!Does everyone remember how Woody Allen had a big crush on her- at least before Frieda Pinto came along?I’m sure ol’ Woody wanted a piece of more than ScarJo’s Key Lime pie in exchange for those movie roles he wrote for her… and then ScarJo stole Justin Timberlake from Cameron Diaz and then Ryan Reynolds from Alanis Morrissette ONLY b/c she is younger than the former two and has a nice rack! …How dare she complain that she”pounded the pavement for years and worked her a** off to get where she is”??!! Please,sweetheart there ain’t a DAMN thing you could tell the rest of us about struggle…