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Scarlett Johansson Reflected On "Embarrassing" Past Career Controversies

"It can be embarrassing to have the experience of, 'Wow, I was really off mark there.'"

Posted on March 25, 2021, at 8:09 a.m. ET

Scarlett Johansson is taking some time to reflect on her past mistakes, joking in a new interview that she's "made a career" out of controversies.

Scarlett Johansson smiling at a press event
Amy Sussman / Getty Images

Speaking to the Gentlewoman for their spring/summer issue, the Black Widow actor said it has been "embarrassing" for her in the past to have to admit when she was wrong.

Scarlett Johansson looking serious at a press event
Barcroft Media / Getty Images

As well as bringing up her consistent support and defense of accused sexual predator Woody Allen, the article makes reference to the controversy surrounding Scarlett's role in the 2017 manga adaptation Ghost in the Shell. At the time, she was accused of whitewashing and taking a role that should have gone to a Japanese actor. Her response — "I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person" — was also met with backlash.

It also brings up Scarlett's casting in the film Rub and Tug, in which she was set to play a trans man. She eventually pulled out of the project, saying in a statement provided to Out magazine, "Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I've learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive."

Her first statement on the matter simply directed those offended by her casting to seek comment from "Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps." All three are cisgender actors who have played trans people on screen.

Reflecting on those past controversies, Scarlett told the Gentlewoman, "I'm going to have opinions about things, because that's just who I am."

Leon Bennett / Getty Images

"Everyone has a hard time admitting when they're wrong about stuff," the 36-year-old continued. "And for all of that to come out publicly, it can be embarrassing."

Johansson smiling at the Film Independent Spirit Awards
David Crotty / Getty Images

She clarified: "To have the experience of, 'Wow, I was really off mark there.' Or I wasn't looking at the big picture, or I was inconsiderate."

"I'm also a person," Scarlett added.

"I can be reactive. I can be impatient," she said. "That doesn't mix that great with self-awareness."

However, Scarlett went on to say she believes it's "unfair" to expect actors to "have a public role in society" and be exemplary role models just because they're in the public eye.

Johansson looking serious
John Phillips / Getty Images

"Some people want to, but the idea that you're obligated to because you're in the public eye is unfair," Scarlett said. "You didn't choose to be a politician, you're an actor."

"Your job is to reflect our experience to ourselves; your job is to be a mirror for an audience, to be able to have an empathetic experience through art," she went on. "That is what your job is."

"Whatever you say, whether it's politically correct or not, any statement you make, or how you live your life, people are obviously going to take issue with it," she said. "We judge each other all the time."

Johansson looking over her shoulder
Michael Tran / FilmMagic

She said she believes that level of constant judgment and immediate reactivity has been worsened by the rise of social media.

"Your sense of reality is completely skewed," Scarlett said. "It's not normal to be that exposed. You can be exposed whenever you're in the public eye, but to then be on the receiving end, like a raw nerve, of all this stuff back? It's too much!"

"It's incredible how if you talk to people — not type to them — that's how you grow," she went on. "Listening to people, learning their experience, sharing that, seeing it with your eyeballs."

Read Scarlett Johansson's full cover story with the Gentlewoman here.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.