Johansson was born in New York City. Her father, Karsten Johansson, is a Danish-born architect, and her paternal grandfather, Ejner Johansson, was a screenwriter and director (Scarlett Johansson holds Danish citizenship). Scarlett Johansson's mother, Melanie Sloan, a producer, comes from an Ashkenazi Jewish family from the Bronx. Johansson's parents met in Denmark, where her mother lived with Johansson's maternal grandmother, Dorothy, a former bookkeeper and schoolteacher. Johansson has an older sister, Vanessa, who is also an actress; an older brother, Adrian; a twin brother, Hunter, also an actor; and a half-brother, Christian, from her father's re-marriage.
Johansson grew up in a household with "little money" with a mother who was a "film buff". Johansson began her theater training by attending and graduating from Professional Children's School in Manhattan in 2002.
Johansson began acting during childhood, after her mother began taking her to auditions. She made her film debut in 1994's North. After appearing in several films during the late 1990s, including a "blink and you'll miss it" appearance in the Mandy Moore video for her single Candy, Johansson garnered praise and widespread attention for her performance in 1998's The Horse Whisperer and 2001's Ghost World.
She won the "Upstream Prize" for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for her performance in 2003's Lost in Translation. The same year, she was nominated for two Best Actress awards at the Golden Globes, one for drama (Girl with a Pearl Earring) and one for comedy (Lost in Translation). She was also nominated for Best Actress for both films at the BAFTAs, and won Best Actress for Lost in Translation.
Johansson was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in June 2004. In the same year, she starred in the films The Perfect Score, In Good Company and A Love Song for Bobby Long, the last of which earned her a third Golden Globe Award nomination. Johansson was involved for a short time with the film Mission: Impossible III, but was not officially cast because of scheduling conflicts, although a falling out with the film's star, Tom Cruise, had been both widely reported and publicly denied. She was replaced by Keri Russell.
In July 2005, Johansson starred with Ewan McGregor in Michael Bay's The Island, making her debut as a female lead in a mainstream action film. In the same year, she starred in the Woody Allen-directed drama Match Point, which opened in December. Johansson received her fourth Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the role, but lost to Rachel Weisz.
Johansson's next film, Scoop, another collaboration with Allen, was released on July 28, 2006. The same year, she appeared in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia, a film noir shot in Los Angeles and Bulgaria. Johansson has noted that she was a De Palma fan and had wanted to work with him on the film, even though she thought that she was "physically wrong" for the part. Her reviews were mixed: CNN.com noted that Johansson "takes to the pulpy period atmosphere as if it were oxygen," whereas the Kalamazoo Gazette referred to Johansson as "miscast."
On January 14, 2006, Johansson hosted Saturday Night Live. Also in 2006, Johansson starred in a short film directed by Bennett Miller and set to Bob Dylan's "When the Deal Goes Down...," released to promote Dylan's album, Modern Times. Johansson also appeared in the Christopher Nolan thriller The Prestige, which opened on October 20, 2006. She made a return appearance on Saturday Night Live on April 21, 2007, during which she dueted with Andy Samberg for a version of "Something to Talk About."
Johansson at the film set of Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2007
Johansson at the film set of Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2007
Johansson next appeared in 2007's The Nanny Diaries, starring alongside Alicia Keys, and 2008's The Other Boleyn Girl, playing Mary Boleyn opposite Natalie Portman and Eric Bana. She has filmed her third Woody Allen film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, in Spain.
Johansson has signed on for three new projects. She was cast as the femme fatale Silken Floss opposite Gabriel Macht in Frank Miller's noir comedy adaptation of Will Eisner's comic The Spirit. The movie is scheduled to go into production October 2007. She will also portray Mary, Queen of Scots in a film scheduled to begin production in March 2008, and appear as a pilates instructor in He's Just Not That Into You, with Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Justin Long. The film is directed by Ken Kwapis and produced by Barrymore.
In 2005, Johansson was considered for the role of Maria in Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End revival of The Sound of Music, though the role ultimately went to newcomer Connie Fisher after she won BBC's talent show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Released May 8, 2006, Johansson sang the track "Summertime" for Unexpected Dreams – Songs from the Stars, a non-profit collection of songs recorded by Hollywood actors. She also performed with The Jesus And Mary Chain for a special Coachella Reunion Show in Indio, California in April 2007.
In the summer of 2007, Johansson spent about a month in Maurice, Louisiana recording an album at Dockside Studio, a rural 12 acre complex. The album consists of one original song and ten cover versions of Tom Waits songs. It was produced by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio and features David Bowie, members from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Celebration. The record, entitled Anywhere I Lay My Head was released on May 20, 2008, through Atco/Rhino Records, amid a negative "critical consensus, stretching from comments on Gawker.com to the pages of The New York Times." Reviews of the album were mainly average, mostly concentrating on her supposedly sub-par vocal abilities and the perceived failure to add a new dimension to the well-established classics she chose to cover, but some critics found it to be surprisingly alluring, brave in its eccentric selection, and even brilliant.
In 2006, Johansson was the leading lady in Bob Dylan's music video for "When the Deal Goes Down." In 2007, she appeared as the leading lady in Justin Timberlake's music video for "What Goes Around.../...Comes Around," nominated in August 2007 for video of the year at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Johansson does not discuss her personal life with the press, saying "it's nice to have everybody not know your business." This has not stopped Johansson from sharing "select" opinions and personal details. Johansson's ex-boyfriend (and member of the band Steel Train), Jack Antonoff, wrote lyrics that refer to Johansson in the song "Better Love." Antonoff alludes to Johansson in the song "2 O'clock." She has been linked to many famous men, including Derek Jeter, Benicio del Toro, Jared Leto, Justin Timberlake and her Black Dahlia co-star Josh Hartnett. They dated for about two years until the end of 2006, with Hartnett citing their busy lives as the reason for the split. She is currently dating Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, and on May 5, 2008, it was reported that the two are engaged. Johansson says she does not believe in monogamy, and has said that it is not human nature to be with just one person. She also said "contrary to popular belief... [she is] not promiscuous" and she works "really hard" when she is in a relationship "to make it work in a monogamous way." She gets tested for HIV twice a year, and has said "it's part of being a decent human" and it is "disgusting" and "irresponsible" when people do not do so.
Johansson is a cheese fanatic, saying: "My greatest vice is cheese. Nothing else reigns over my life." She has criticized the media and Hollywood for promoting an image that causes unhealthy diets and eating disorders among women, saying "that being ultra-thin is not sexy at all. Women shouldn't be forced to conform to unrealistic and unhealthy body images that the media promote."
Johansson appeared on the cover of the March 2006 issue of Vanity Fair in the nude with Oscar-nominated actress Keira Knightley and world-renowned fashion designer Tom Ford. In March 2006, she topped the U.S. edition of FHM's poll of the sexiest women alive (in the UK edition Johansson was third). In 2007, Maxim named Johansson #3 in their Hot 100 issue. In November 2006, Johansson was named "Sexiest Woman Alive" by Esquire. In February 2007, she was named the "Sexiest Celebrity" of the year by Playboy.
About her religious affiliation, Johansson says: "That's a very personal question. I would rather not answer." She celebrates a "little of both" referring to Christmas and Hanukkah. She dislikes when celebrities thank God or Jesus in their award acceptance speeches. She described herself as Jewish when she was talking about Woody Allen. "I just adore Woody," she says. "We have a lot in common. We're New Yorkers, Jewish. We have a very easygoing relationship."
Johansson is a Global Ambassador for the aid and development agency, Oxfam. On March 14, 2008, a UK-based bidder by the name of Bossnour paid £20,000 for a 20 minute date with Johansson on an online auction for Oxfam on eBay. The bidder paid for a hair and make up treatment and the chance to accompany Johansson on her July premiere of He's Just Not That Into You.
Johansson is a Democrat. In 2004, she campaigned for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. She was quoted as saying of George W. Bush's re-election, "[I am] disappointed. I think it was a disappointment for a large percentage of the population." Johansson campaigned for Barack Obama in Iowa on January 2, 2008; her efforts were targeted at small groups of younger voters, including Cornell College students and students at St. Paul Central Senior High School on Super Tuesday. She has also taken part in the anti-poverty campaign ONE which was organized by U2 lead singer Bono. According to the FEC website, she has not donated any money to the Obama campaign.
Johansson appeared in the 2008 music video for Black Eyed Peas front man Will.i.am's song, "Yes We Can", directed by Jesse Dylan. The song was inspired by a speech delivered by Barack Obama following the 2008 Iowa caucus.
On May 20, Scarlett Johansson's Tom Waits covers album, titled 'Anywhere I Lay My Head,' sees its release, with guest spots from David Bowie and production by TV on the Radio's David Sitek. Spearheaded by Waits' 'Falling Down' -- from 1988's 'Big Time' -- this isn't your average celebrity music makeover.
"When I had the idea to do an album of Tom Waits songs, before I had even met Dave [Sitek], someone suggested I sing 'Falling Down,'" Johansson tells Spinner. "But I decided it was too corny for me to do just because it has the lyric about 'Scarlett and me.' But Dave hadn't even noticed it. When I mentioned it, he thought the synchronicity was crazy and I never even thought twice about it after that. I was like, 'Yeah, let's do it.'"
"With 'Falling Down,' our pursuit of making one song with both Kermit the Frog and David Bowie on it became a success," Sitek adds.