In the middle of answering a question about her experience with comic book fans, Scarlett Johansson is given a glass of tomato juice. “Don’t worry, it’s not a Bloody Mary,” she says. “Or maybe it is,” she adds, mischievously. “I had it on the plane over here and I just really liked it.”
“Is it a craving?” I ask, sitting next to her in Londonâ€™s Dorchester Hotel where the film is having its premiere that night.
“No, thatâ€™s a silly question,” she says, as she moves on to carry on talking about the devotion to the Marvel fans around the world have shown.
Perhaps, but it’s an innocent one. The 29-year-old actress has yet to confirm her pregnancy herself, but Marvel producer Kevin Feige let it slip a few weeks ago, and since then, Scarlett has already found herself topping lists about pregnant women in Hollywood. She and fiancÃ© French journalist Romain Dauriac are believed to be in the early stages of expecting, and Scarlett is still on track to film The Avengers sequel in April.
Pregnancy is just one of the many roles Scarlett, who has been nominated for four Golden Globes since she started acting at the age of 10, currently has. Her honey-warm voice helped earn Her a best picture Oscar nomination, sheâ€™s currently enjoying critical acclaim with the indie movie Under the Skin, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and now, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which releases this weekend, sees her slip back into costume as Natasha Romanov, aka the Black Widow.
In The Winter Soldier, Scarlett reunites with Robert Redford, who witnessed the early part of her career when they were in The Horse Whisperer in 1998. Scarlett, who was born in New York City and studied threatre there, was 13 then. â€œIt was nice to meet him as an adult; he was just as pleasurable as I remember,â€ she says. â€œHe has a real natural way about him in life, and in his performance. I never thought Iâ€™d be holding a gun to his head though!â€
Dressed in a blue suit with a red-and-blue patterned silk shirt, she looks casual with her hair swept up in a pony,every bit of the easy-to-work-with, anti-diva her co-stars Samuel L Jackson and Anthony Mackie describe. Her role as the Black Widow has made her part of the billion-dollar franchise – a success that superseded the industryâ€™s expectations. The Avengers became the fastest film to gross $1 billion, and the third-highest-grossing film in movie history. Does she feel any of that pressure for the sequel, which is due out next year? â€œ [Director] Joss [Whedon] is supposed to experience all that pressure,â€ says the actress, chuckling.
â€œFor me, one of the exciting things about doing a film like this is that you have the challenge of keeping the character fresh, while still maintaining the integrity of what the audience loves about them,â€ she says. â€œEven doing theatre doesnâ€™t compare to this,â€ continues the Tony-Award winner. â€œYou have a relationship with the audience, because youâ€™re coming back to them. I like that, because itâ€™s an opportunity that we donâ€™t always have as actors.â€
The key to playing a superhero, Scarlett says, is confidence, even though she admits thereâ€™s a bit of fake-it-til-you-make-it. â€œThe most important thing is you just have to drive it like you own it, so even if you feel goofy doing it, if you sell it with conviction, and add some music, itâ€™ll look cool.â€
â€œThe most important thing [to playing a superhero] is you just have to drive it like you own it, so even if all you feel goofy doing it, if you sell it with conviction, and add some music, itâ€™ll look cool.â€
No doubt sheâ€™ll be channelling that while filming Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, which shoots in London, although the production team has been filming some of the set-up shots in South Africa. â€œSouth Africa is really beautiful, Iâ€™d love to go there,â€ she says. â€œThere are so many of us, so who knows where, if anywhere, weâ€™ll be going. But I think weâ€™ll just be here [in London].â€
Thereâ€™s talk that Black Widow may get her own movie one day soon. â€œThe material is certainly there, she says. â€œAnd itâ€™s great to have a female-driven superhero who is not just a character taking every opportunity to pose sexy but actually has some substance to her.â€ Scarlett loves seeing women at Comic Conventions rocking the Black Widow costume. â€œItâ€™s not an easy one to pull off,â€ she says. â€œIâ€™m always, like, â€˜you go, girl! And I love it when my friendsâ€™ daughters dress up as her. Itâ€™s great that they have someone who can go head-to-head with the guys and is witty to look up to.â€
â€œItâ€™s great to have a female-driven superhero who is not just a character taking every opportunity to pose sexy but actually has some substance to her.â€
While the Black Widow may or may not get her own movie, Scarlett will be getting hers. The actress will direct her first feature-length movie, based on a Truman Capote novel called Summer Crossing. New mother and new director – true to Scarlettâ€™s definition of superhero.