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However you feel about Scarlett Johansson as an actress, a movie star, or a celebrity—and she is, at this stage, most definitely all three of those things—this much is undeniable: she has a certain appeal. She is tremendously talented, to be sure, but never seems to transform into a black hole of tetchy method madness. Her beauty, too, isn’t hesitant—on screen, she is a focus magnet—but neither is it inaccessible. In the decade since her breakthrough in Sofia Coppola‘s Lost in Translation (2003), her precocious ingénue halo has also quietly dissipated, and she has grown into a woman who clearly contains multitudes: she’s a Woody Allen muse and a superhero, with the gravitas (and the smoky timbre) to sing an album of Tom Waits songs and a face that is frequently used to sell luxury goods. And though she has grown up in front of the world and survived a mélange of public relationships and paparazzi-stalking and phone-hacking, she seems neither vehemently overprotective of her privacy nor a compulsive over-sharer. But in an era when the notion of an actor’s appeal has been reduced to a metric of success typified by sets of quasi-sabermetric floating numbers—and it’s worth noting that by those measures, Johansson is considered among the most successful people on the planet—she has somehow managed to remain above and beyond it all, doing different things, occasionally pleasantly weird or challenging things, and deftly hop-scotching around all of the landmines, integrity and soul intact.

Johansson’s inherent appeal—as such things are wont—has kept her busy over the last couple of years and, in fact, comes into play in very different ways in a trio of new films. In Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s recently released feature-directorial debut, Don Jon, she plays a sweetly romantic, movie-obsessed Jersey girl with big hair and a bigger heart, whose budding relationship with film’s titular GTL player (Gordon-Levitt) is impeded by his more advanced relationship with porn. In an interesting sort of mirroring, Johansson tackles the other side of the intimacy equation in Spike Jonze‘s Her, a near-futuristic love story due out in December in which she voices an artificially intelligent computer operating system that both entrances and enlivens a lonely writer (Joaquin Phoenix). And in Jonathan Glazer’s dark new sci-fi tone poem, Under the Skin, an enigmatic film that divided audiences with its minimal dialogue and unconventional arc when it screened last month in Venice, she plays a gothy seductress from another world who lands in the Scottish Highlands and summarily lays waste to her prey in a way that makes Ben Kingsley’s combustible, erratically violent character in Glazer’s Sexy Beast (2001) seem like an almost affable houseguest.
In addition, Johansson has two other movies in the offing, her Iron Man 2 (2010) director Jon Favreau’s comedy Chefand Luc Besson’s Lucy, and she will reprise her Iron Man/Avengers franchise role as cagey Russian spy Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow, in a couple of new Marvel Universe installments, Captain America: The Winter Soldierand The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Next summer, Johansson will also direct her own first feature with an adaptation ofTruman Capote‘s Summer Crossing, based on an early novel concerning a summer romance in New York City that Capote began in the mid-1940s but ultimately set aside. (It was eventually discovered amongst his papers and published in 2005.) And if that weren’t enough, she also recently got engaged to her boyfriend of roughly a year, Frenchman Romain Dauriac. (She was previously married to actor Ryan Reynolds; they divorced in 2011.)

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