Scarlett Johansson has been “the sexy girl” for what feels like forever. But now, on the verge of turning 30, the Captain America star is feeling savvy about work, sane about love—and super-heroically all grown up.
From a distance, fans may think Hollywood is as cliquish as a high school cafeteria: action-star jocks sitting at one table, drama nerds at the next; red-carpet leading ladies seated far away from the back-of-the-class goofballs. That world doesn’t really exist, but even if it did, Scarlett Johansson would be a table-hopper: a tough-kid tomboy, ridiculous comic, gorgeous world traveler, badass action hero, and sexpot, all at once—and always a woman everyone, everywhere, would like to sit down with.
So I do just that. Fresh off her Glamour photo shoot, Johansson has shed the metallic Lanvin you see on the cover and changed into an unpretentious sweater and jeans. You don’t have to squint hard to see the fearless New York City theater kid who grew up singing show tunes and tap-dancing in her living room with her twin brother, just a few blocks away from the downtown Manhattan photo studio where we meet up.
The famously husky, grown-up voice that she’s had forever (see her breakout childhood roles in Manny & Loand The Horse Whisperer, and of course 2003’s Lost in Translation) makes so much more sense now. Today Johansson is defining adulthood on her own terms: She has bounced back from her 2011 divorce from Ryan Reynolds, gotten engaged to French journalist Romain Dauriac, moved on from being managed by her mother, learned to embrace her status as the “Sexiest Woman Alive,” and begun to find a new niche as a kind of bombshell everywoman: from the loud-“tawking” Jersey girl of last year’s Don Jon to the dream-girl operating system of Spike Jonze’s award-winning Her. In this spring’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, she’s trotting back out her tough femme fatale, the two-pistol-toting Black Widow— a character so popular that she may be the first female superhero in years to get a major film, beating even Wonder Woman to the (ahem) punch.
But since Johansson never strays too far from her indie roots, she’s pulling a doubleheader right now, starring inUnder the Skin, a thriller in which her character picks up pedestrians on the streets of Glasgow, Scotland. Some of the men in the movie were actually real passersby—and made the final cut. The secrecy of filming with the non-actors was uncomfortable for her: “I don’t like the feeling of knowing something that somebody else doesn’t,” she tells me, growing suddenly a little awkward. It’s a moment that will echo in my mind a few days later, when the Internet is ablaze with news that she and Dauriac are reportedly expecting their first child. Johansson really is in a new phase of her life
GLAMOUR: Do you have a special connection with your twin?
SJ: [Nods.] I mean, we’ve been together since the womb. We’re very protective of each other. I think that has to do with us being twins but also our upbringing: My parents got divorced when we were 13. There was a lot of movement. A lot happening. And I was working. My parents were on either coast, and our next older sibling is five years older than us and was in college while we were still at home. We had to stick together and be each other’s constant in an environment that was really changing a lot.
GLAMOUR: You brought up divorce. You voiced the artificial intelligence operating system in Spike Jonze’s Her, and I was wondering what it was like to work on a film that’s about moving on with your life after heartbreak, after your own divorce from Ryan Reynolds.
SJ: When I started to talk with Spike about the film, we shared our relationship experiences. We talked about what it feels like to not have something work and what that does to your sense of self.
GLAMOUR: How are you different now?
SJ: I think I know myself better. I feel I know now more of what I need in a relationship, what I want in a relationship. And I know I have more tools to communicate, not just with my partner, but with myself. That’s not necessarily any reflection of who I was married to or what was happening in my marriage, but really where I was in my life. When I was first married, I was much younger. And I have had the opportunity now to work more on getting to know myself. I think that makes you a better partner and somebody who is able to work with somebody and stay in a relationship in the not-romantic moments. I have more patience with myself. I have more patience with my partner. I think that just comes with age, probably.
GLAMOUR: So the plan is basically that once you get through this crazy year of work, you and Romain will figure out a wedding date?
SJ: Yeah, I guess so. We’re just going with the flow. I’ve never been one to do a full-on themed wedding. I don’t care about that stuff.
GLAMOUR: The two of you are splitting time between New York City and Paris. What’s a typical weekend in Paris?
SJ: Well, he loves art, so we might visit some of the galleries or go to a museum. That’s his true passion. I like to experience that with him. I guess part of the wonderful thing about living in Paris is how people take their time with things. And I like to feel no pressure on the weekends in Paris. Sunday, most things are closed in Paris, and there’s something wonderful about that. So I’m much more comfortable just spending the weekend in my bed.
GLAMOUR: Has Paris changed your sense of style?
SJ: Yeah. Because I have more competition! The nice thing about being in Paris is that you know everybody’s looking at what you’re wearing: You have an audience, you know? New York is about street style that’s functional. A Paris look is not functional! It doesn’t matter if your shoes are comfortable. Here [in New York City] you can still wear your Nikes. In Paris you suck it up. You hobble around. Although my girlfriends in Paris and I decided we’re adopting the trend of athletic streetwear ’cause we got sick of it. I was like, “I am sick of not feeling my big toe after two hours of dancing!”
GLAMOUR: So you all go out in your sneakers?
SJ: Yeah. Flyknits or old-school Reeboks—and we don’t care. If the whole flock of girls is wearing it, the guys have to accept it. So we just wear it with confidence. Here’s the thing: When you’re dancing your pants off, nobody’s looking at your shoes.
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