Scarlett Johansson found it strange that she ended up playing sexy roles.
“I feel when I was working in my early 20s and even in my late teens/early 20s, I felt that I sort of got, somehow, typecast. I was very hyper-sexualized,” Johansson said during The Hollywood Reporter’s roundtable conversation among the year’s top actresses. “Which, I guess, at the time seemed OK to everyone. It was another time.”
The 34-year-old, star of awards season movies Jojo Rabbit and Marriage Story, made her first credited movie appearance in 1994’s North. Four years and a handful of roles later, she drew acclaim for her turn as an injured teen in Robert Redford’s 1998 drama The Horse Whisperer. Roles in the Coen brothers’ The Man Who Wasn’t There and the offbeat Ghost World, both in 2001, and others followed. Most famously during that period, she portrayed Charlotte, a young woman who caught the eye of Bill Murray’s character, a restless and weary, middle-aged movie star, in Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film Lost in Translation.
Johansson was 18 when the film was released, and she received one of her two nominations in the Best Actress categories at the Golden Globes that year for her work. (Lost in Translation was considered a comedy or musical. Johansson’s other nod was for her work in the drama Girl with a Pearl Earring. In that one, she played muse to the decades-older Colin Firth.)
“Even though it wasn’t a part of my own narrative, it was kind of crafted for me by probably a bunch of dudes in the industry,” Johansson said of her image. “And I guess that worked then, 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.”
Her role in several Woody Allen movies around that time, including his 2006 drama Match Point and his 2008 comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona, were alluring characters, too. (She’s since faced criticism for defending the director in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against him.)
In 2009, Johansson stepped into a starring role in the Broadway adaptation of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Top, which changed how she thought about her career and earned her a Tony Award. The experience “totally reset my whole way of thinking about how I could work and the different kind of opportunities that could be available to me,” Johansson said.
It showed her that “theater is limitless,” she explained. “Even though it was terrifying, it was liberating because I actually felt that every night I had the opportunity to change the narrative.”
Now, Johansson said, the climate has changed in Hollywood and there are more “opportunities for women of every age to play all different types of people.”
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle’s newsletter.