Interview: Scarlett Johansson on how Black Widow is (and isn’t) a role model


Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Black Widow in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Credit: Getty Images
Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Black Widow in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
Credit: Getty Images
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is obviously a Captain America (Chris Evans) movie, but just as important is Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of Natasha Romanov, code name Black Widow. The film marks her third appearance as the sole female Avenger, giving Johansson the chance inhabit a character in a way she rarely has over the course of her 20-year career.

“It’s an interesting challenge to keep coming back to this character,” Johansson says. “We saw a little bit of her in ‘Avengers,’ and we saw a little bit of her backstory — we’ll see more of that in ‘Avengers 2′ — but in this film, we really get to see Natasha as a person who gets up, gets ready for work in the morning, has a life outside out of her job once she’s out of the suit. She’s a woman and she has own reality outside of this. Who knows how far that stretches?”

She’s also not as clear-cut a good guy as Evans’ Captain America. “Natasha is a bit of a reluctant superhero. She doesn’t necessarily have this strong, golden moral compass. Let’s not forget, she started out her career essentially as a mercenary. I don’t know if that makes her role model material,” Johansson says, though she does admit those gray areas make the job that much more interesting.

“One of the things that’s attractive to me about the character is that she uses her feminine wiles as part of her job, but she doesn’t rely on her sexuality or physical appeal to get the job done,” she says. “She’s extremely smart. She thinks on her feet. She’s a leader. And she has a lot of foresight. Those are qualities that I think are wonderful to celebrate for young women. And of course, it’s really rad for me to have my friends’ kids kind of look up to that character, and dress up as her for Halloween, and play with the boys and be rough. I always say, ‘The Widow always wins.’ And it’s true. And that’s a nice sentiment.”

Getting rough can take its toll, though. “I’m going to be in physical therapy for the rest of my life,” she jokes. But in all seriousness, Johansson was better prepared for this round of Marvel action than the previous two. “I’d just come off of doing a Broadway run, which is pretty much the most physically demanding thing you can do. I felt like if anything was going to prepare my stamina, it was that. So everything seemed like a piece of cake after treading the boards for that long. And I think I was in pretty solid shape from that run. And then just maintaining it, [which is] boring. Get up at 5, go to the gym. You know, that stuff that’s horrible.”

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick


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