Scarlett Johansson questioned her acting career after being turned down for Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity.”
The “Lost in Translation” actress reflected on her trajectory in a new interview with Variety, citing the devastating loss of being turned down for the Oscar-winning space epic. Marion Cotillard and Natalie Portman also screen-tested for the lead role of a scientist trapped in space, and Blake Lively and Johansson were considered before Sandra Bullock was ultimately cast in the Best Actress-nominated part.
“I got turned down for two roles — the first was ‘Iron Man 2’ and then the other one was Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity,'” Johansson said. “I had wanted that role so much. It was sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back. I felt really frustrated and hopeless. Like, ‘Am I doing the right job?'”
Johansson continued, “The work I was being offered felt deeply unfulfilling. I think I was offered every Marilyn Monroe script ever. I was like, ‘Is this the end of the road creatively?'”
The star admitted it was “hard to get out of that pigeonhole” of playing an onscreen bombshell. “And I did films like ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ and movies that kind of continued that narrative,” Johansson said. “I couldn’t make any headway.”
Eventually, Emily Blunt dropped out of “Iron Man 2” due to a contractual obligation with 20th Century Fox to film “Gulliver’s Travels.” Johansson instead stepped into the role of Black Widow, cementing her Marvel career turn. (Johansson’s “Iron Man 2” co-star Robert Downey Jr. was also briefly in talks on “Gravity” for the role that went to George Clooney.)
“[‘Iron Man 2’] wasn’t going to move the needle forward in terms of how my character was written,” Johansson said of her brief appearance in “Iron Man 2,” “but there was potential for what it could be — a potential for growth in subsequent films.”
She went on to star in nine MCU films, including the standalone spinoff “Black Widow.” In 2021, Johansson went to war with Disney when it shifted “Black Widow” to day-and-date streaming on Disney+, which meant Johansson losing out on back-end theatrical grosses. She sued Disney before eventually settling the lawsuit that netted her a reported $40-million-plus payday.
Speaking with Variety, Johansson credited indie films “Under the Skin” and “Her” for a mid-2010s career resurgence.
“Suddenly it was like, ‘I still love this job,'” Johansson said. “And it reignited my passion for the work. I felt less anxious.”
Johansson is next set to star in Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City,” Kristin Scott Thomas’ “My Mother’s Wedding,” Sebastián Lelio’s “Bride,” and is rumored to be attached to Greg Berlanti’s “Project Artemis.”