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


Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking


K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.


Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.


Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.


Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…


Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…


Shia LaBeouf disorderly conduct case pushed to September

A judge on Thursday adjourned until September the disorderly conduct and harassment case against actor Shia LaBeouf, who was charged with disturbing a Broadway theater…


2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…


NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…


Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.


Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.


Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.


Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.


Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.