Why Scarlett Johansson Said She Was ‘Always Terrible At Commercials’

Today, Scarlett Johansson is a household name best recognized for portraying Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She first appeared in the franchise in 2010’s Iron Man 2, and she is at last receiving her highly-anticipated standalone installment — with Black Widow set to premiere in theaters and on Disney+ (with premiere access) July 9, 2021. 

Johansson is known widely outside the MCU as well. She memorably starred in 2003’s Lost in Translation, appeared alongside an A-list ensemble in He’s Just Not That Into You, and recently gave a tear-jerking performance opposite Adam Driver in Marriage Story. She is also a two-time Academy Award nominee and four-time Golden Globe nominee.

Scarlett Johansson Academy Awards 83rd
Scarlett Johansson arrives at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre | Jason Merritt/TERM / Staff

In short, it’s hard to imagine Johansson being ‘terrible’ at anything related to performing, including commercials. Yet, according to the A-lister, she had a really hard time snagging commercials earlier in her career. 

Scarlett Johansson struggled to find an agent to represent her early on

Johansson — like many aspiring actors — didn’t see success right out of the gate. She remembered one rejection in particular when chatting with Interview Magazine. She shared: 

But after I was rejected by that agency, I remember standing outside in Greenwich Village with my mom—I think we were on Houston or something—and she was saying, “Do you really want to do this? You’re so devastated.” And maybe it was the rejection or whatever, but I really wanted to give it a try, and she supported that. So I finally ended up finding an agent who did want me, and I began auditioning and started to book work-films, in particular.”

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When she finally found an agent, Johansson found a new problem. 

Scarlett Johansson said her voice “was so deep…At the age of 9”

After locking down an agent, Johansson booked a few work-films, but was not so great at the commercials. She shared: 

“I was always terrible at commercials because my voice was so deep. At the age of 9, I sounded like a whiskey-drinking, chain-smoking fool. Wasn’t going to sell Jell-O with that voice, you know?”

Scarlett Johansson | Interview Magazine

Though Johansson didn’t have the most luck landing commercials, she snagged some “emotional work” rather early on, sharing:

“But when I was about 12, I was working on The Horse Whisperer [1998]. I’d made probably five or six movies at that point—I was doing a lot of really emotional work—but I remember finding that place of realizing, ‘Oh, wait, I can manipulate this thing that I’m doing.’ I could start to see the colors of the scenes and to understand the nuances of what went into giving a performance. It was this realization that acting was more than just this natural thing—that it was something that you could craft.”

Scarlett Johansson | Interview Magazine