Johansson’s youth, experience defy labels

'Translation' thesp chooses roles that fit

When Scarlett Johansson recalled a previous interview in which she was asked, “What is it like to be the It girl,” she found herself disconcerted.

“I don’t want to be ‘right now,’ I want the chance to outlast that kind of label.”

At 18, Johansson’s highly praised performance in “Lost in Translation” goes against the grain of teen acting expectations in substance and tradition. She skillfully takes on the role of a woman in her mid-20s, in a reversal of the cliche of older thesps playing teens.

It may seem precocious but she has been developing her talents for 10 years and has appeared in 13 films including critically acclaimed performances in “Manny and Lo,” “The Horse Whisperer” and “Ghost World.”

She has been selective of the roles she has taken on, seeking out parts that challenge and suit her.

She says of her choices, “It’s like trying on a good sweater, it just fits and you feel that you can bring your touch to the film.”

Indie film has provided her with the vast majority of her opportunities, and the small scale has the firmest grip on her heart.

Her three upcoming projects are all independents, with “The Girl With the Pearl Earring” producing the most buzz. Pic screened at the Oct. 17 Centerpiece Gala of the Hollywood Film Festival.

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