The one factor to belie her beaten-down look was the blue mug she’s carrying – and her beaming smile.
The blood wasn’t actual, the grime wasn’t actual.
That was film make-up and Johansson was on the tail finish of a months-long filming schedule for Black Widow that’s taken the solid and crew throughout Europe, from Budapest to Norway, earlier than settling down at Pinewood Studios, an hour west exterior of central London.
Huddled in a nook of a cavernous movie stage, Johansson is an outdated professional at this recreation. She locked in eye contact when she spoke to you and, with out lacking a beat, lowered her voice when the bell rings to sign that reside filming was occurring behind her.
It was September 2019 and Johansson has been taking part in tremendous murderer Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow because the character’s debut in Iron Man 2 in 2010.
It’s uncommon for an actor to have performed one character with regularity for close to on a decade on movie and he or she admitted to having “blended emotions” about transferring on.
“I’m in some methods prepared [to say goodbye] after which in different methods, I’m unsure,” she mentioned. “It’s exhausting to say goodbye to something but it surely’s kind of my job to let go of it sooner or later and transfer on.”
The time to maneuver on feels about proper. As one of many six authentic Avengers that got here collectively in Marvel’s 2012 blockbuster, Johansson has been at this the longest solely after Robert Downey Jr.
Downey Jr has already hung up his iron boots whereas Chris Evans additionally bowed out after Avengers: Endgame. However these two did so after headlining three every of their very own motion pictures along with the Avengers get-togethers whereas Johansson’s overdue stand-alone film is just being launched this week.
It’s bittersweet in some ways as a result of it’s as if followers who’ve been agitating for a Black Widow film for greater than a decade is just now attending to the character higher – and after her character’s on-screen dying in Endgame.
Natasha is a personality that’s been underserved by the movies by advantage of their giant ensembles and fast-paced plots, and an murderer’s tendency to not overshare components of themselves.
However the one particular person Natasha hasn’t been elusive to is Johansson.
“I do know loads about this character as a result of she’s in me,” she confessed. “However I haven’t actually had the chance to entry all of the components of her however Cate Shortland, our director, that’s what she loves. She loves the within of this character, the center of this character.
“She’s very curious to tug all of it out and study it and dissect her so I’ve been capable of make loads of discoveries about her. And her completely different strengths and her completely different flaws, the components of herself Natasha thinks is ugly, to essentially convey these to the floor. Our work is how we take care of that stuff, so it’s been therapeutic.
“It’s a very attention-grabbing approach to work. I can’t think about that many actors have this chance to do this with a personality they’ve performed for 10 years and grown with them.”
Quick-forward nearly two years and Shortland is again house in Sydney, the place she’s locked down and doing Black Widow press over Zoom. The movie has been delayed for 15 months since its authentic launch date, however Shortland sees it as one thing that may convey individuals again collectively – “life’s been powerful, take pleasure in a little bit of enjoyable”.
Its themes have unintentionally resonated. Among the many motion, thrills and deep-rooted character exploration, Black Widow can also be a household reunion drama of kinds, one which brings Natasha again along with her Yelena (Florence Pugh), Melina (Rachel Weisz) and Alexei (David Harbour), Russian spies who posed as a pretend household within the US when she was a toddler.
For Shortland, the character is the “sum of her components”, and it really works on a textual and metatextual stage, to consider Natasha on display screen and her place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the true world as a personality that even Johansson lately mentioned was hypersexualised in her first look.
Shortland mentioned: “She was created as this sort of femme fatale, however she was coming by means of huge trauma. She was put with a spy household, so she needed to faux to be a daughter and a sister, so she’s extremely advanced and contradictory and he or she’s stuffed with secrets and techniques.
“The enjoyment of working with Scarlett on this movie is that we obtained to unpack loads of that. What we wished was to make one thing form of transcendent in order that what occurs in Endgame is smart, that we see a personality that’s absolutely acknowledged all of the completely different components of her inside this movie.”
Equally, it have to be acknowledged that Johansson is taking part in many alternative roles on Black Widow. As an government producer, she was reportedly instrumental in selecting Shortland from a listing of contenders to direct, most of whom had been ladies.
Shortland mentioned whereas she will be able to’t communicate to what a male director – and even one other feminine director – couldn’t have delivered to the undertaking that she may, her personal and Johansson’s lived experiences as ladies had been one thing they might join on and channel into the film.
“I used to be capable of speak to Scarlett about what has occurred to me in my life and stuff she had in her life about lack of management, not having a voice, moments of frustration and disgrace about being a girl,” Shortland mentioned.
“And the way can we transcend that? Typically, we transcend it with humour. That’s what I wished to convey into the movie was [Natasha] isn’t a sufferer, she’s a survivor.”
Johansson mentioned there was one thing “innately feminine” concerning the movie regardless that she careworn that the film was made for everybody and never one specific phase of the viewers.
Within the manufacturing workplace at Pinewood again in 2019, Pearson revealed Johansson was the one who known as him and provided him the job. She spoke with him for an hour, attending to the guts of the character and what she and Shortland wished the film to do when it comes to opening Natasha’s story.
“Scarlett has been unbelievable to work with,” Pearson mentioned. “She’s actually exceeded all expectations. She’s actually sensible with the script, she expects loads and it’s somewhat nerve-racking while you’re having her run by means of the scenes and be like, ‘this doesn’t work’ and also you’re like, ‘oh sh*t’.
“And then you definitely suppose ‘it might be higher’ and we discuss it and we’re capable of make it higher.”
Johansson began the undertaking with no particular story in thoughts, solely the concept of what the tone must be.
“What we wished to realize was one thing that felt very grounded and visceral, kind of transformative for this character, an opportunity to inform a narrative about self-acceptance, forgiveness and self-forgiveness,” Johansson defined.
“You already know, I in all probability had a smaller concept of the dimensions of this and [Marvel Studios boss] Kevin [Feige] had a a lot greater concept of the dimensions of it.
“So these two issues mixed is what it’s. I feel it’s a really – hopefully, we’ll see as a result of we’re in the midst of it – grounded story however within the Marvel theatre. That’s our objective.”
The opposite objective was to present followers closure. After a greater than a decade and one harrowing dying scene, Natasha, Johansson, and Marvel followers deserve it.