Have You Seen Scarlett Johansson’s Very First Film?

Whether you’ve seen Scarlett Johansson’s first film depends on where you start. 

Her very first movie is infamous in movie circles as being one of the worst movies of the 1990s, though nobody blamed Johansson for it, because people didn’t really notice her at the time. It didn’t take long after that for people to start noticing her, though. 

Flash forward to the present day, and now Johansson is one of the highest paid actresses in the world, if not the highest.

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson | Marilla Sicilia/Archivio Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Johansson heads ‘North’ to stardom 

According to IMDb, Johansson’s first movie was 1994’s  North, starring Elijah Wood and directed by Rob Reiner, who was coming off a string of hits including For a Few Good Men and Misery.

Roger Ebert made no bones about how he felt, writing “I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it.” 

At least Johansson managed to escape the harsh notices playing a minor character named Laura Nelson. North, and a few other films including Home Alone 3, didn’t get a ton of attention for Johansson.

The first movie that truly got her noticed was an indie film called Manny & Lo, about two young sisters who run away from foster homes. It earned Johansson, then 12,  an Independent Spirit nomination for Best Female Lead. 

One of her other early vehicles was a movie called The Horse Whisperer, directed by and starring Robert Redford. Johansson played a young girl badly injured in a horse-riding accident, while another girl played by Kate Bosworth was killed. Johansson replaced Natalie Portman, who turned down the part to star in The Diary of Anne Frank on Broadway.

Johansson and Portman later worked together on The Other Boleyn Girl

Johannson’s career takes off

After that, Johansson proved her versatility, both in her choices of movies and directors. Her projects ranged from silly genre flicks like Eight Legged Freaks to cult comedies like Ghost World. The directors she worked for were diverse too, including the Coen brothers (The Man Who Wasn’t There), Michael Bay (The Island) and Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation). 

It was that film in particular that cemented her stardom, with a number of people expressing surprise she didn’t score an Oscar nomination along with co-star Bill Murray.

It’s an honor that so far eludes her. She does have four Golden Globe nominations, including Lost in Translation, Girl with the Pearl Earring (in the same year, 2003), A Love Song for Bobby Long and Match Point, one of three films she made with Woody Allen. 

It’s her association with him that has earned her some brickbats. The Allen movies came out before the allegations that he molested his daughter Dylan intensified, but Johansson has been criticized for associating with him.  

Controversy and success

Perhaps the primary reason that Johansson ranks as one of the highest-paid actors now is her association with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has helped her accumulate a net worth of $140 million. That number will surely increase now that she finally has center stage in the MCU with the Black Widow movie coming out next May. 

Controversies still sometimes dog her, as when she argued she should be able to play a transgender man in the movie Rub & Tug when others counted that an actual transgender actor should be given a chance.

For the most part, however, Johansson is viewed positively for playing strong woman, with Black Widow at the forefront. 

Where we find Natasha in her life at this point is very specific,” Johansson told EW of the upcoming movie.

“She really is in a dark place where she’s got no one to call and nowhere to go. She’s really grappling with her own self. When something huge explodes and all the pieces are landing, you have that moment of stillness where you don’t know what to do next — that’s the moment that she’s in. In that moment, you actually have to face yourself.”