Scarlett Johansson: ‘I don’t want to be the ingénue, the object of desire anymore’


Scarlett Johansson knows that many of you don’t like her right now. And she’s fine with it. That’s how I’m interpreting her “f—k it, I’m going to keep on talking” publicity campaign for The Winter Soldier and Under the Skin. To be fair, I think most of these print interviews (like this new one with the Wall Street Journal) were done a month or two ago. But I still maintain that Scarlett doesn’t give a crap if you hate her. She’s not one of those people feeding on the hate and she’s not one of these people broken down by the hate either. She’s ambivalent. She doesn’t care about what the peasants say. Anyway, here are some quotes from this WSJ piece – I enjoyed it overall, but then again… I’m sort of becoming a ScarJo apologist as of late.

Whether she offended French people when she joked about their rudeness: “You’re allowed to complain about places you live, because you love them. Then I got off the [Letterman] stage and I go, ‘Oh my God, did I just offend a nation of people?’” Johansson said that Dauriac called and reassured her that her comments were accurate, that everyone in France says the same kinds of things about pushy Parisians. “But of course his father called him and said, ‘What is she smoking? What is she thinking?’ Hopefully they will accept me back there.”

Why she plays Black Widow: “I was like, I want to be part of something big like that. I want to be in a really successful, huge film that’s good and works. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I wanted to stretch myself physically, out of my comfort zone, and still succeed. I’m probably like most actors. We have huge egos, and you want to know you can be successful, no matter what. I don’t want to be pigeonholed in one genre or budget or whatever. I’d rather take the chance of a film not working than be stuck in a pattern of making the same movie over and over”

No longer an ingénue: “I don’t want to be the ingenue anymore. That part I’m happy about. It’s nice to be glamorous, but I don’t want to always have to be trendy and glamorous and an object of desire. I don’t want to be stuck in that forever. Because it doesn’t last.”

Having it all: “It seems so stressful to not be able to spend time with your family because you’re constantly chasing the tail of your own success. There must exist a world in which I can balance those things, be able to raise a family and still make a film a year, or work on my own, develop things, do theatre. I want to be able to have it all. Selfishly.”

Motherhood/career balance: “I know that with that there will be some sacrifices. I know that’s the struggle with working mothers and successful careers. It happens.” But the scent of double standard is obvious, and Johansson doesn’t shy from it. “With [male actors] it just doesn’t happen that way. You can be every woman’s fantasy, and nobody thinks twice about the fact that you have eight kids or whatever.”

Her relationship with Romain Dauriac: “Our life is quiet,” she says. (As evidence, the couple has been mercifully spared a mortifying relationship acronym. “Scar-Ro? Scar-Main?” Johannson jokingly suggests.) She is vague about wedding timing (“our plan is to get married at some point”), but she admits that her French is rusty. Dauriac’s family mostly speaks French around her, but at home the couple usually sticks to English. “When you’re in a relationship with somebody and you’re communicating with them, you want to be as clear and concise as possible. We try to speak French a little, but it’s mostly like, ‘I like this sandwich.’ ‘That’s a nice color.’ ” She intended to take a month off and study French with a tutor. “You go out, you go to a museum, order lunch, try to do a conversation.”

[From the Wall Street Journal]

The part about taking some time to learn French reminds me of David Sedaris’s books and his years-long attempt to learn French while living in Paris with his boyfriend. I guess Scarlett thinks that she’s so brilliant that she’ll just be able to pick up French in a month. Ha! Good luck with that.

As for her talk about not wanting to be an ingénue anymore – “I don’t want to always have to be trendy and glamorous and an object of desire” – well, we’ll see. Scarlett has always seen herself as a “real actress” except that she also profited (heavily) from the whole ingenue thing, especially when it came to modeling side projects.


Photos courtesy of WSJ.

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98 Responses to “Scarlett Johansson: ‘I don’t want to be the ingénue, the object of desire anymore’”

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  1. Happyhat says:

    I like her. I went to see Under The Skin, I thought she was brilliant in that.

    • T.Fanty says:

      Ooooo, was the movie good? I adored the book.

      • Happyhat says:

        Never read the book, so I can’t comment on that. But I really liked the movie. My friends weren’t so sure! It has a really good ‘bleak’ feeling to it.

      • T.Fanty says:

        The book is fantastic. I do recommend it. I can’t see ScarJo in the role of Isserly, but I do respect the fact that she’s making alternate choices.

        I don’t get the ScarJo hate. So, she’s aiming high, and now that she has a little clout, she’s trying to use it to give herself more options. I don’t think she’s a particularly good actress, nor does she seem particularly smart, but I don’t see why we should bash someone for trying to push herself. Sometimes I think that people only like to hear about feminism when it comes from plain women.

      • Happyhat says:

        I don’t get the hate either – from her interview she seems perfectly on the ball. She has a good career with interesting choices. (will be defo hunting out the book now!)

      • mercy says:

        It looks cool and I like the book and the director’s previous work, but it has received some scathing reviews, along with a couple raves. I expect the American critics will be more forgiving, but we’ll see.

        I think most people like to hear comments about feminism or any other topic from those who seem fairly knowledgeable, share their views, and walk the talk.

        Everyone should aim high, but if they don’t live up to the choice opportunities given to them they should be called on it and other actors should get a shot at the good scripts.

    • Violet says:

      She is truly amazing as Isserly. The movie was fantastic and for me the best of Jonathan Glazer, even better than birth.

  2. GeeMoney says:

    I guess perhaps she’s saying that she doesn’t want to be the ‘ingenue’ anymore because perhaps she wants more serious, interesting roles in Hollywood?

    I guess there is a downside to being good looking after all.

    • pru says:

      I think that is what she is trying to say too.
      I mean, isn’t an ingenue a really young woman? So at 30(ish) she’s really loosing the ability to do that anyway.

      • mercy says:

        30 is still young, but as she said the ingenue stuff doesn’t last. She got lucky very early in her career with Lost in Translation so she’s had some choice roles. Maggie in Cat on A Hot Tin Roof is pretty choice, but she wasn’t right for it. She’s rather limited and the more the role requires her to step out of her comfort zone, the more obvious it becomes.

      • Kosmos says:

        Agreed! Just what i was thinking….don’t worry, you’re not the ingenue anymore, actually….personally, I never ever thought she was tops anyway.

    • V4Real says:

      I think she already knows that the fanboys are saying that Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch is hotter than ScarJo as Black Widow.

      Yep it’s true, I have read it. Men will be men, as soon as the next hot and younger woman comes along, they move on to her.

      • mercy says:

        They’re really saying that? Olsen hasn’t been pushing the sexy ingenue like Scarlett has over the years. She should be tired of it by now.

      • V4Real says:

        No what I’m saying is that Scarjo knows her number is up on being one of the most desireable women. So I think she’s taking steps to make it seems as if she has grown tired of being the sexy siren instead of being upstage by the younger and hotter talent that’s on their way up.

        I used Olsen as an example because even though AVG 2 has not completed filming, there are pics of Olsen in her Scarlet Witch costumes and the fanboys are going nuts. They are saying how much hotter and younger Olsen is compared to Scarjo. I think Scarjo is just trying to soften the blow, esp when the film is relesed and Scarlet Witch becomes more popular than Black Widow. Or should I say when Olsen becomes more popular than ScarJo. Don’t foget Scarlett keeps track of Google alerts on herself, so she knows when they are talking about her.

      • Alexis says:

        Is Elizabeth Olsen even younger than ScarJo? If she is it is by like two years or something, not enough to make people default younger. Also Olsen, while her beauty seems very popular with women, isn’t really seen as super hot among men anyway. Put another way, I don’t think Scarlett is or should be stressed about that. ScarJo has been talking about being more than a little pretty starlet since she was like, 20. Nothing new here, so I disagree.

      • Erinn says:

        Alexis – Elizabeth is 25 and Scarlett is like 29 I think. It’s not a huge gap, but it’s enough. To be honest, I thought Scarlett was more into her 30s

      • DJ says:

        Yeah, some people are going nuts over Olsen, who I think is 4-5 years younger. But it has always been the nature of the beast. I even said on another forum the other day: she is getting the “new girl in town” treatment, hence why all the fanboys think she is hotter. Guys love a “newness” factor to women. There is also the “prom queen” treatment where actress who has been around awhile finally gets her moment in the sun. Often, the “new girl” or “prom queen” is younger, but not always. I always found that Mila Kunis and Olivia Wilde greatly benefitted from Megan Fox’s career downfall to take her place as the prom queen hot girls in Hollywood for a period of time (and they were older than her).


      • V4Real says:

        @Alexis I think you forgot that Elizabeth is the younger Olsen sister, definetely younger than ScarJo. And why in the past you may claim that men have never found her hot, she is the newest female cast to AVG’s and men, mainly fanboys have started to talk about her hottness in the present.

        As for ScarJo, just because she has been saying she doesn’t want to play on her sexuality doesn’t mean that that wasn’t what she was doing. If she had no interest in being a pretty little starlet then she wouldn’t have sexed up her image by doing all those hot photoshoots that she has done. You don’t see Meryl Streep half naked in photoshoots. Don’t get me wrong I don’t have a probem with ScarJo. She’s just not the sharpest tool in the shed. .

    • T.C. says:

      Didn’t Scarlett accept some sexiest woman title just last year saying she might as well enjoy being desired before she ages out? This interview is just her trying to act like she doesn’t care if she’s no longer considered hot but she does.

      My problem with her is that she is superficial, shallow, money crazy and self-centered. It became more and more obvious this year.

  3. paola says:

    Ignorance IS bliss. It’s all i’m saying.

  4. Jaderu says:

    I think she just oozes dumb.
    But I do give her props for ignoring haters. I like the actresses that do.

    • Algernon says:

      Whenever I see an actor (or actress) get really upset by public opinion, I’m like, why do you even care? You’re doing what you love, you’re crazy successful, who cares if some anonymous internet person thinks you have a big nose or whatever? There’s nothing more mortifying to me than a celebrity on twitter fighting with normal people. It’s like, what are you even doing? I’ve always like Scarlett for being above that fray.

  5. Kiddo says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but having a Google Alert about yourself might indicate some degree of giving a sh-te.

  6. Palermo says:

    Just keep getting older, that will solve that problem

  7. FingerBinger says:

    A month to learn French? I’ve been studying French, Spanish and Portuguese for years and I’m still bad at it. Good luck with that Scarjo.

    • paola says:

      I’ve lived between the uk and the States for the majority of my life but I’m still learning english and I’ll have to take one more exam ( I already can’t sleep at night and it’s a month away) and this dumb bitch thinks she can do it in 30 days. Good luck.

    • Isadora says:

      I don’t think she wants to read “À la recherche du temps perdu” after a month, just have a bit of normal conversation. And I think that’s actually manageable if you really go for it, have a good tutor and maybe already some basic knowledge of the language (which she seems to have if she can say that she’d like a sandwich and stuff).

      Having said that I personally have my problems with French. Never got the hang of that language, even my (miserable) Latin is better than my French.

      • FingerBinger says:

        Even learning conversational French takes more than a month. There are people that grasp other languages very easily,but I don’t think she’s one of them.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        If you have already studied the language a bit, a solid month of deep full-time and expensive immersion will do a lot to help you along toward a basic conversational level.

        This of course assumes a level of aptitude which I suspect is lacking here. Sorry, I think ScarJo is dumb as a bag of bricks, and I doubt she has it in her.

      • Sophie says:

        She seems to have a background in the language already, so a month would really help her improve, perhaps get more confident in her language skills. That said, there is a big difference whether she takes that month in the USA or in France.

    • mercy says:

      In my experience, the best way for an adult to learn to speak a new language is to live in a country for an extended period and be forced to speak it. I studied in France and felt like I learned more in one month than in two years of formal classes. One of my classmates had lived in France for years and spoke French fluently, but did poorly on written tests because she had not learned spelling and grammar.

    • I’ve been studying french for three years and counting, and I’m still horrible at it. I read it better than I speak though.

    • littlestar says:

      I had to take French in university as a second language requirement. I did it during spring term, so one year of university French classes condensed into six weeks. It was absolute hell and I forgot everything immediately after writing the final exam. One month, all she’ll learn is the basic basics. My husband took French immersion through grades 1-12 and is fluent, it’s so much easier to learn a second language as a kid than as an adult :( .

  8. Tatjana says:

    Oh please, if she didn’t look the way she does, she wouldn’t have a career. She’s one of the most wooden actresses around.
    Having said that, she looks amazing in these pictures.

  9. Aysla says:

    I really really want to see Under The Skin, but more importantly… which David Sedaris book are you talking about? I have several of his books, but I’ve only gotten around to reading one and a half *hangs head guiltily* AND I’m currently trying to learn French– this book is meant to be read by me! ;) Throw me a bone?

  10. doofus says:

    she should keep being the beautiful ingenue because she’s kind of a lousy actress.

    and her fiance’s family only speaks French around her? Unless they don’t speak any English AT ALL, that’s pretty rude and is an indication (IMO) of how they feel about her.

    • mercy says:

      Why should they be expected to accommodate her? Maybe they’re as uncomfortable speaking English as she is speaking French.

    • Sophie says:

      Maybe they speak a bit of English to her and French around her, since the others are French as well? Why should they start speaking (or trying to speak) English all the time just for one american? And since she knows some basic French, they might be helping her with her language skills.
      I didn’t read/hear the moment she said the French are rude. Did she say that about Parisian French or about everyone in France? Because that does make a difference.

  11. MaiGirl says:

    Yeeeah, gurl. Sure. “Ingenue” is all she has going on, so best to stay in her zone, and not overreach her grasp, as she has done in the past (‘member her Tom Waits album? Yeah, me neither). I have seen her in several roles, and the best I could ever rate her was “okay-to-good-ish”. I don’t know why she even tries–she and Jessica Biel labor under the illusion that there is a little Meryl Streep in them waiting to get out. At least Jessica Alba saw the writing on the wall and became a very successful mommy blogger and businesswoman. If Scarlett is smart, she’ll do something similar.

  12. Side-Eye says:

    You ever notice that quality actresses–you know, the ones that can actually act, and get roles based on more than looks–almost never make these kinds of statements about being type-casted because of looks? I mean, I’m not saying there aren’t still struggles, but I’m so tired of sub-par to basic actresses complaining about their lack of roles. If you really wanted to be recognized you would get better or just stop accepting the BS roles early on.

  13. Rice says:

    Is it me or does ScarJo look the same in every shot?

  14. Mich says:

    I can’t stand her. And I don’t care that she doesn’t care.

  15. Shiksa Goddess says:

    I actually really like her. I loved her in that Don Jon movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt where she went full out Drita from Mob Wives.

  16. wtf says:

    I love when actresses that made their fame and fortune solely off of their looks, then turn around and say they don’t want to just be known for their looks.
    Let’s be honest, she’s beautiful, but does anyone really think that she can act? Everything I’ve seen her in, she’s been terrible. In The Other Boleyn Girl Portman acted circles around her. It was kind of embarrassing.

    ScarJo – Just bank your checks off your beauty, and then go quietly away.

    • G says:

      Right, because she is not allowed to grow beyond what she started out from, you know like a human being. It’s amazing that classically beautiful women like her are not allowed to say anything without being torn down. I have read some of the most vile comments about her from women who usually rally under the feminist banner. On one of the threads of her being pregnant people were hoping she would get fired from the Avengers for getting pregnant. Think on that…women claiming to be feminists hoping another woman gets fired for getting pregnant. Just saying some ladies check their feminist beliefs upon seeing a pretty face they are intimidated by.

      • DaisyDuchess says:

        She is being torn down because she is an apartheid/paedophile apologist. Not only that, but she throws it in your face. Nothing to do with her looks.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        She is a paedo-apologist so that has nothing to do with getting pregnant, to be honest.

        She is insensitive and disrespecteful.

      • mercy says:

        It’s true that many talented actors are unfairly limited by public perception, or their association with a certain kind or role, genre, or medium. But the success of Lost in Translation catapulted Scarlett into a good position early on, both in terms of perception and connections made. I think she’s had more opportunities than most to show what she can do, and to be more selective about the kind of roles and endorsements she took on.

        I think the issue wasn’t her pregnancy, but that they didn’t like her take on Black Widow and hoped to be seeing less of her. Personally I liked the suggestion that the pregnancy be written into the movie. It would probably make the character, and movie, more interesting!

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I dislike SJ very much because of her insensitivity to Dylan and self-centered, self-serving remarks about the Woody Allen situation. But, how feminist is it to assume that any woman who criticizes an attractive woman does so because she’s jealous? Do we have no minds or right to an opinion without you assuming the underlying reason is “she’s pretty so I hate her?” How insulting is that? I have lots of friends I love dearly who are prettier than I am, and I couldn’t care less. I celebrate beauty in other women. My dislike of SJ has nothing to do with her outside and everything to do with her inside.

  17. NeNe says:

    Isn’t that what her whole career is based on?

  18. Nessa says:

    I’ve been watching a lot of interviews of hers for CATWS (Mainly because she does most of them with Chris Evans, and I have an undying love for him that I am mildly ashamed about). She comes across as painfully dumb. I always thought she was slightly smarter than the average dumb starlet, but I was completely, utterly wrong. She is the definition of faux intellectual… She is so much smarter in her own mind than she really is. Beautiful girl, though.

    And IMO, she seems smitten with my man throughout the whole press tour. There are so many pictures of her gazing longingly at Captain Sexy. And I don’t blame her!!!

  19. kibbles says:

    Scarlett’s just one more reason among a dozen others to hate Woody Allen. If it wasn’t for him making her his muse, her star power would probably have never lasted this long.

  20. OhDear says:

    That’s a very ingenue-looking photoshoot for someone who claims not to want to be considered an ingenue before.

    Ouch re: her husband’s family mostly speaking French.

    • Rachel says:

      Not really….they’re basically headshots and she’s barely showing any skin. What is she supposed to do? Uglify herself?

    • Karen says:

      She’s showing essentially no skin, are you serious?

      I really don’t know what you guys want, she has a BAFTA, a Tony and 4 golden globe nominations, her acting isn’t shit and there’s nothing wrong with her saying she wants to change the direction of her career. God forbid.

      • OhDear says:

        Ingenue is defined as a young woman who’s young, beautiful and guileless. If she really meant someone who’s typecast as sexy, then she needs to use the correct term.

      • lrm says:

        Yea, and I also don’t get the comparison with Biel or Alba. Scarjo is a much better actor than they are. She IS good in some movies. I think she’s on par with someone like Kate Hudson, though scarjo has more range than her, as well. She’s not a great actress, but she has enough screen presence to hold her own against heavyweights [who admittedly lift up her performance by acting opposite her. But a terrible actress with poor screen presence could not be rescued even by heavyweights].

      • mercy says:

        I’d like to see her acting be worthy of those kind of honours, and I’d like to see her think a little harder before she opens her mouth.

        I haven’t seen Biel or Alba’s work, but it sounds like I’m not missing anything. Wait, I did see Biel in Blade. Bad movie and role, but I can’t say she brought anything memorable to it. Biel has been making movies for a long time. She doesn’t have an acceptable performance in an indie or two floating around? I think Kate Hudson is more charming and personable on screen than all of them, and that probably played a part in her career being derailed by bad romcoms, like McConaughey. But I doubt she’s capable of doing the kind of heavy dramatic roles MM has taken on in recent years, and Hollywood is not as forgiving of women, so not I’m not expecting a comeback.

      • M.A.F. says:

        My only main issue with SacrJo is that she is too damn monotone. Yes, she has a sexy voice (not going lie, I wish my voice sounded that) but damn, a little vocal range can do wonders for a scene. I would much rather see a movie with her in it than the two Jessica’s, Hudson, Wilde, etc. I keep hoping Marvel will consider a Black Widow movie because I think she could bring it.

  21. Lark says:

    Scarlett is underrated as an actress (people always rag on her, but forget the multiple nominations and the fact that people like Cuaron love her) and she’s a beautiful woman. However, she needs to learn how to shut the eff up.

  22. Denise says:

    But she keeps playing up the sexy. Let’s face it, actresses will continue to say yes to being an object of desire as long as someone is asking, and that’s fine. Why can’t anyone be honest and just say it scares the hell out of them that their time is running out and they’ll milk it for as long as they can? It’s not just Hollywood, this is reality for every woman over 40.

  23. Etheldreda says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much, Scarlett. Once the fickle viewing public has moved on to the next non-threatening blonde – on schedule any day now – you’ll no longer be an ‘object of desire’. There’s always another doe eyed blonde waiting in the wings. Hot young women are eminently disposable. Have no fear, Scarlett.

    • OhDear says:

      I think she’s reaching that point where she’s “too old” to rely on just looks anymore (as you said, hot young women in Hollywood are disposable) and needs to decide where her career goes next. For women it seems like its only either the lifestyle/mommy industry, rom coms or Oscar bait, and it sounds like she wants to go the Oscar bait route.

      I had no strong opinions about her until she made those comments about the Dylan Farrow situation.

  24. JenniferJustice says:

    I don’t hate ScarJo. I don’t think she is as talented as some do and she was Woody Allen’s muse which got us off on the wrong foot. I think many people tire of celebrities thinking and saying things that show they are not as smart as they think they are. She went to college and got an education and that’s more than many actors/actresses do, so I give her props for that, but most of us regular folk went to college and we don’t think it makes us uber intelligent. I could do without the soap box, politics, and humble bragging, but I don’t hate her. I’m just not impressed with her. There are others who are far better actresses who do not feel the need to push their beleifs or stances on us and who are better looking and don’t pay to be named Sexiest Woman of the Year. She is actually quite typical of Hollywood – self-centered, boring, and shallow. I’m sure motherhood will slap the self-centeredness right out of her and she’ll be more likeable. I don’t hate Gwyneth Paltrow either, I simply find them both insufferable.

  25. Pepsi Presents...Coke says:

    ‘I don’t want to be stuck in that forever. Because it doesn’t last.’

    Finally, I get to say: that begs the question. Viva life!

  26. jammypants says:

    Why is 30 “too old” for women but not men? Ridiculous.

  27. Aisha says:

    Still can’t believe that she’s the one that got famous after Ghostworld while the ridiculously talented Thora Birch has disappeared off the face of the earth. So unfair.

  28. moon says:

    are her and portman still friends? i just realised theyre both with french guys now

  29. Dalovelee says:

    Here is my take. She’s smart to take the defensive tactic of saying she no longer wants to be the ingenue. Which sounds good on print but LET’S ALL BE HONEST… She knows every other month there is a new young blonde ingenue that takes Hollywood by storm. She’s only 30 but now in Hollywood she’s although she is still considered hot she’s not the IT girl. She’s not new anymore. She’s good looking enough to get those black widow roles and sell bring sexy but she’s not the one Hollywood is tripping over themselves. So she knows that her time will pass. She’s not an amazing actress she’s competent… Who will get roles but not great roles. Now she can take time to be a partner and mother instead of focusing in her being that ingenue.