The Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! will show Scarlett Johansson IN ALL HER GLORY – as a Hollywood diva who falls pregnant just before an important him project and then has to go to great lengths to extract herself from the situation SCARLETT JOHANSSON’S first taste of show business ended in tears. She was 7 years old when her mother was advised to take all her four children to an audition. “I will never forget the awful woman who chose my elder brother,” recalls Scarlett. “I sobbed my heart out in a bakery; I thought my life was over.” Nevertheless, Scarlett’s mother discerned her potential: she enrolled her daughter in the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute and herself became her agent. Mum gave her advice, but always allowed Scarlett to have the last word. At the age of 9, Scarlett debuted in Rob Reiner’s North, alongside Bruce Willis and the young Elijah Wood. She reminded Reiner of a “middle-aged lady, a little bit cantankerous, very fussy, demanding, and with no faith in life.” At 18 she was a sex symbol. Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation begins with a close-up of Scarlett’s buttocks in pink knickers. Her kiss with Bill Murray in the finale was not in the script; it was a joint improvisation. But this did not eclipse her talents as an actor: the him gave her her first nomination for a Golden Globe.

Young Scarlett dreamt of more daring roles. In the science-fiction action him The Island she even argued with director Michael Bay, but in the end he persuaded her to wear a bra for the sake of the hint’s rating. That same year, she found ‘her own’ director. Woody Allen badly need an actress for the main role in Match Point after Kate Winslet turned him down at the last moment. When Woody and Scarlett met, they were simply charmed by one another. For this role Scarlett received another Golden Globe nomination. “He and I can speak to one another without words… And he understands women as very few do,” says Scarlett. Woody, meanwhile declared himself “president of her fan club”: “She’s wittier than me! She responds instantly to all my jokes. And if you take into account her sexuality and talent, then she beats me hands down.”

On the wave of success Scarlett decided to try her hand at music: in 2008 she released ‘Anywhere I Lay My Head’. The reviews were mixed. Some thought Scarlett’s voice weak; others liked her expressiveness. The press, meanwhile, paid rather more attention to her turbulent love affairs. At the age of 21 she fell in love with Josh Hartnett, with whom she played erotic scenes in Black Orchid. This was the first relationship she acknowledged officially – although she confessed she thought “monogamy contradicts human nature”. A year later, she began a more serious relationship – with Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds. They celebrated their wedding in secret, without a single photo being leaked to the public. “Of course, I had no intention of getting divorced 2 years after marrying,” said Scarlett, “but that’s the way things turned out.” Next, 26-year-old Scarlett dated 50-year-old Sean Penn. They were seen kissing passionately at a reception in the White House. But the passion burnt itself out 5 months later. Sean left Scarlett for his new girlfriend, and Scarlett once more became the subject of headlines about her rich love life. It seemed her acting was no longer of interest. Her great successes of the past were trapping her in the image of a sex symbol from a rom com. How could she get the critics to recognize her as an actress? In this respect her role as the Black Widow in Iron Man 2 came as a breath of fresh air, winning her recognition from an entirely different audience with no interest in rom corns. Her critics, however, claimed her only award should be for ‘Best Boobs in Hollywood’. Having demonstrated complete mastery of her body, Scarlett now decided to show she could win the audience’s love without exposing her body at all – with her voice alone. In Her she played a computer programme with whom the male lead (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love. The him won an Oscar for best script; Scarlett was awarded a Saturn.

Scarlett’s latest roles have been very different from one another, but they all have one thing in common: these are, as she herself says, “strong women who are able to survive and adapt to any circumstances.” This is a striking contrast with the helpless girls she played earlier. Scarlett’s maturity is also to be seen in her private life. A year ago, she married Frenchman Romain Dauriac, a former journalist who is now a figure in the art world. The wedding took place, again in secret, after the birth of their daughter, Rose. “We live in different worlds,” says Scarlett, “but Romain is getting to know my strange world of show business. For my part, I make an effort to go to various exhibitions with him and introduce him to artists.” She admits that marriage is something which needs working on. For Romain’s sake she has moved to Paris – and has acquired a genuinely Parisian stylish sense of style. Nevertheless, when she goes out clubbing, she and her girlfriends cast aside convention and dance in their trainers. True beauty, believes Scarlett, is in self-confidence. ♦