Scarlett Johansson: 'I was hyper-sexualized by film industry as a teenager'

Margaret Abrams

The Hollywood Reporter hosted its annual Actress Roundtable this year with Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Awkwafina, Laura Dern, Jennifer Lopez and Renée Zellweger.

During their hour long conversation, the six actresses discussed imposter syndrome, the aftermath of the #MeToo movement and how the film industry treats young women.

Johansson spoke about the post-#MeToo world and how she was treated during the early days of her career, saying, “The climate is so different now, there's so many wonderful opportunities for women of every age to play all different types of people.

When I was working in my early 20s and even my late teens, I felt that I got somehow typecast as hyper-sexualized, which I guess at the time seemed OK to everyone — it was another time — even though it wasn't part of my own narrative. It was kind of crafted for me by probably a bunch of dudes in the industry.”

Scarlett Johansson (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Her breakout role was in the 2001 indie film Ghost World. After appearing in the movie alongside Thora Birch, she went on to star in Lost in Translation and Girl With a Pearl Earring. She made headlines in September when she voiced her support for director Woody Allen.

Johansson, 34, went on to say, “But it was really difficult for me to try to figure out how to get out of being an ingenue or the 'other woman' because it was never anything that I had intended. I had to shake it up a little bit. I remember thinking at the time that maybe I needed a different job in this industry that would be more fulfilling, because it seemed like there was nowhere to go."

She went on to star in an Arthur Miller play on Broadway and is set to appear in the Noah Baumbach film Marriage Story alongside Dern.

“It happens every time before you start. Your impostor syndrome sneaks in —this will be the time that everyone knows you're a fraud and you're going to get fired. It becomes less fear and probably more just a sense of responsibility as you get older, and I've been doing it a while,” Zellweger, who is currently starring in a biopic of Judy Garland, said about imposter syndrome.

Laura Dern (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The women also discussed their most intimidating roles over the years. Big Little Lies star Dern mentioned 1996’s Citizen Ruth because she didn’t have experience “huffing paint,” Nyong’o named Us because she “had to play two characters in one movie” and Lopez said Hustlers “was the first time in a long time that I was actually terrified, really scared, to do that opening [pole dancing] number.”

The Hustlers star reflected on her time playing Selena in the 1997 biopic, remembering that when she took on the role people told her, "You better not f***k it up!" as the singer had died two years before the film.

“Luckily I was young and more ignorant" she said, "Now if I had to do it I would be so in my head, so much more in my head, it would be much more difficult I think.” A new Selena limited series is coming to Netflix in 2020.

Lupita Nyong’o (Peter Barreras/Invision/AP)

Nyong’o also discussed #MeToo and Time's Up, saying it’s “about allowing for equitable representation.”

All of the women spoke about the early days of their careers when directors would ask to meet them in hotel rooms and how that's changed.