Scarlett Johansson recalls being 'hypersexualized' as a young actress: 'People thought I was much much older than I was'

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Scarlett Johansson is getting honest about her experiences as a young actress.

In a new interview on Dax Shepard's podcast Armchair Expert, the mom of two, 37, recalled feeling like she was set up to appear older than she was in early film roles.

"I kind of became objectified and pigeonholed in this way where I felt like I wasn't getting offers for work for things that I wanted to do," she explained. "I remember thinking to myself, 'I think people think I'm 40 years old.' It somehow stopped being something that was desirable and something that I was fighting against."

Johansson said she felt like her experience playing ingénues contributed to this phenomenon.

"Because I think everybody thought I was older and that I'd been [acting] for a long time, I got kind of pigeonholed into this weird hypersexualized thing. I felt like [my career] was over," she said. "It was like: that's the kind of career you have, these are the roles you've played. And I was like, this is it?

"The runway is not long on that," she explained. "So it was scary at that time. In a weird way, I was like, is this it? I attributed a lot of that to the fact that people thought I was much, much older than I was."

Though she says things have "changed a lot" in the way Hollywood studios treat rising female stars, she admits there is still a lot of work to be done.

“Now, I see younger actors that are in their 20s. It feels like they're allowed to be all these different things," she explained. "It's another time, too. We're even allowed to really pigeonhole other actors anymore, thankfully, right? People are much more dynamic."

Johansson says that while it's certainly "gotten better" for women, society has a long road ahead.

"It's kind of changed," she said. "We live in a patriarchy and I feel like there's a fundamental reality of the woman's condition that will always, even if those 600 men are not actively aggressive necessarily as much as they would have been a minute ago, it's still fundamentally there. It's so baked into our culture and society. It's hard for me to imagine that ever being not an element."

To that end, Johansson says that at times she feels caught "between two worlds" in the aftermath of the #MeToo era.

"We had our mothers who were like, 'Use whatever you can to get what the thing you need. Use your feminine wiles. Use your sexuality,'" she said. "And then there's our generation I think that's done that and also [said], 'This doesn’t feel right, there's gotta be some other way.' And there's the younger generation of women who are like 15 years younger than me, who are like, 'You don't have to take any of that crap. No pandering.' There's this system that's completely rejected. It's an interesting place to be in the in between of."

Still, the actress says she has nothing but hope for future generations of women who are leading today's conversations. However, she advises them to stay patient and to learn from the past.

"I've come to this realization that it's important to understand progress and change when it's really meaningful – it takes two steps forward and two steps back, and then it gets better and then it gets worse. It's not finite," she said. "I think if you don't leave room for people to figure it out, then the actual progressive change doesn't really happen."

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