Blank Stares and Blonde Hair: Performing Scarlett Johansson

  • Kirsten StevensEmail author


This chapter looks to elements of Johansson’s performance across her body of work. Described as an actor who “oozes” on screen, Johansson’s performance is marked by a slowness and remoteness that forms a distinct relationship to time and space within the frame. This chapter engages with current turns in the analysis of acting, screen performance and stardom to consider what marks Johansson out as an actor. Looking across her body of work both within and outside of film, including her supporting roles, Hollywood breakthroughs, independent films, as well as her music videos and advertising work, this chapter charts Johansson’s style in performance as a distinctive element of her stardom.

Works Cited

  1. Affron, Charles. 1980. “Performing Performing: Irony and Affect.” Cinema Journal 20 (1): 42–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anolik, Lili. 2014. “A(nother) Study in Scarlett.” Vanity Fair, April 22.
  3. Baron, Cynthia, Diane Carson, and Frank P. Tomasulo. 2004. “Introduction: More Than the Method, More Than One Method.” In More Than a Method: Trends and Traditions in Contemporary Film Performance, edited by C. Baron, D. Carson, and F. P. Tomasulo, 1–19. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baron, Cynthia and Sharon M. Carnicke. 2008. Reframing Screen Performance. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  5. Belton, John. 1994. American Cinema/American Culture. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  6. Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson. 2004. Film Art: An Introduction. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  7. Conaboy, Kelly. 2008. “I Think About This a Lot: Scarlett Johansson’s Tom Waits Cover Album.” The Cut, August 20.
  8. Cook, Pam. 2012. Nicole Kidman. Basingstoke: BFI, Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  9. Cousins, Mark. 2016. “A Study in Scarlett.” Sight and Sound, 26 (10): 15.Google Scholar
  10. Deusner, Stephen. 2008. “Scarlett Johansson: Anywhere I Lay My Head.” Pitchfork, May 19.
  11. Doyle, Sady. 2014. “From Coquette to Cold-Eyed Killer: How Scarlett Johansson Became the Face of Female Horror.” Salon, July 22.
  12. Drake, Philip. 2006. “Reconceptualizing Screen Performance.” Journal of Film and Video 58 (1–2): 84–94.Google Scholar
  13. Dyer, Richard. 1979. Stars. London: British Film Institute.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 1986. Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society. Houndmills: BFI Macmillan.Google Scholar
  15. Ellis, John. 1982. Visible Fictions: Cinema, Television, Video. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Flemming, David. 2013. “The Method Meets Animation: On Performative Affect and Digital-Bodies in Aronofsky’s ‘Performance Diptych’.” International Journal of Performance Arts & Digital Media 9 (2): 275–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gay, Jason. 2012. “Scarlett Johansson: Back in Stride.” Vogue, April 12.
  18. Higson, Andrew. 1986. “Film Acting and Independent Cinema.” Screen 27 (3–4): 110–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hill, Logan. 2007. “And God Created Scarlett.” New York Magazine, July 3.
  20. Hoggard, Liz. 2006. “Scarlett Johansson: Sex and the Maiden.” Independent, October 15.
  21. Hollinger, Karen. 2006. The Actress: Hollywood Acting and the Female Star. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Hoskyns, Barney. 2008. “Scarlett Johansson, Anywhere I Lay My Head.” The Guardian, May 18.
  23. Jacobs, A. J. 2006. “Scarlett Johansson Is the Sexiest Woman Alive, 2006.” Esquire, November 1.
  24. James, Christopher. 2006. “My Study in Scarlett.” The Times (London), September 7: 13.Google Scholar
  25. Johansson, Scarlett. 2005. “Scarlett Johansson” Interview by John Travolta. Interview, 35 (10) November: 92–97.Google Scholar
  26. Klevan, Andrew. 2005. Film Performance: From Achievement to Appreciation. London: Wallflower.Google Scholar
  27. Lovell, Allen. 2003. “I Went in Search of Deborah Kerr, Jodie Foster, and Julianne Moor But Got Waylaid ….” In Contemporary Hollywood Stardom, edited by A. Lovell and P. Kramer, 259–270. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. McDonald, Paul. 2004. “Why Study Film Acting? Some Opening Reflections.” In More Than a Method: Trends and Traditions in Contemporary Film Performance, edited by C. Baron, D. Carson, and F. P. Tomasulo, 23–41. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
  29. McNulty, Bernadette. 2008. “Scarlett Johansson—Anywhere I Lay My Head: Pop CDs of the week.” The Telegraph, May 17.
  30. Miller, Bennett, Dir. 2008. Falling Down. USA: ATCO Records.Google Scholar
  31. Naremore, James. 1990. Acting in the Cinema. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  32. Petrusich, Amanda. 2017. “Scarlett Johansson Talks Monogamy, Women’s March & ‘Ghost in the Shell’.” Playboy, February 14.
  33. Pullen, Kirsten. 2014. Like a Natural Woman: Spectacular Female Performance in Classical Hollywood. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Scheibel, Will. 2013. “Marilyn Monroe, ‘Sex Symbol’: Film Performance, Gender Politics and 1950s Hollywood Celebrity.” Celebrity Studies 4 (1): 4–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Scott, A. O. 2005. “London Calling, With Luck, Lust and Ambition.” The New York Times, December 28.
  36. Stern, Lesley, and George Kouvaros, eds. 2000. Falling for You: Essays on Cinema and Performance. Sydney: University of Sydney Press.Google Scholar
  37. Taylor, Aaron. 2012. “Introduction: Acting, Casually and Theoretically Speaking.” In Theorizing Film Acting, 1–16. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Thill, Scott. 2008. “Listening Party: Scarlett Johansson Does Tom Waits.” Wired, April 23.
  39. Thomas, Deborah J. 2012. “Froming the ‘Melancomic’: Character, Aesthetics and Affect in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore.New Review of Film and Television Studies 10 (1): 97–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wojcik, Pamela R. 2004. “General Introduction.” In Movie Acting: A Film Reader, edited by P. R. Wojcik, 1–14. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Culture and CommunicationUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations