How Scarlett Johansson Significantly Changed Her Lifestyle to Play Black Widow

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Posted:
Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson is a common staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The actress made her debut as Natasha Romanoff in 2010's Iron Man 2, helping Robert Downey Jr.'s titular hero against Whiplash. Since then, Johansson has made her mark in the MCU by playing Romanoff in nine MCU films, such as The Avengers, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War. 

Unfortunately, Johansson's character died during 2019's Avengers: Endgamebut her in-universe stint didn't end until the hero's solo adventure in 2020's prequel film, Black Widow. Although Romanoff's MCU journey has already ended, the actress is still involved behind the scenes as a producer for a mystery project under Marvel Studios. 

Throughout Johansson's storied Marvel career, the actress has been involved in heavy stunt work due to her character's background as a Russian spy. From showcasing her incredible athleticism to precise choreography (with the help of her stunt double), Johansson has a plethora of incredible MCU moments based solely on her stunts. 

Now, the award-winning actress shared more details about how Marvel's stunt work affected her day-to-day routine.

Scarlett Johansson Opens Up About Playing Black Widow 

Iron Man 2, Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow

Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson sat down with Vanity Fair to talk about the benefits of playing a superhero like Natasha Romanoff to her lifestyle. 

Johansson first admitted that playing Romanoff in Iron Man 2 was a "humongous moment" for her, revealing that she had "five weeks" to prepare herself for "huge stunt sequences:"

"That was a humongous moment for me because I was, I don’t know, 23 or 24 when I was cast in Iron Man 2. I had never stepped foot in a gym, and I had five weeks to prepare myself for these huge stunt sequences."

The Marvel actress continued to discuss the differences between shooting stunt work in the past and the current process now, with her saying that the rigorous efforts served as a "massive lifestyle change" upon getting cast for the role: 

"Back then when we were doing it, over a decade ago, it was before we kind of figured out how to be most efficient in the process of shooting stunt work—what could be handed off to other stunt people and what the actor would practically need to know. So I was doing these huge choreographed sequences and I had no previous experience with any of that stuff. It was just a massive lifestyle change immediately upon getting cast."

Johansson then shared how her past trainer, Bobby Strom, who was training Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds during that time, "took [her] under his wing" to be prepared for the ins and outs of gym life: 

"I was living in L.A. at the time, and I went to this massive, huge, muscle meathead gym. I didn't know how to use any of the equipment. I mean, I was so intimidated. Luckily I had a really great trainer, this guy, Bobby Strom, who was training my husband at the time, Ryan [Reynolds]. And he took me under his wing and was so positive, and really made me understand what functional training was. And I could never go back the other way. Fitness is such an important part of my mental wellness. Other than that, I’ve had to bleach my eyebrows several times for different movies I’ve done. It’s always fun to live with in your everyday life!"

The Legacy of Natasha Romanoff 

Scarlett Johansson's comments indicate that the MCU changed an important aspect of her life in a good way. The rigorous training of the actress effectively shifted her lifestyle, especially considering the fact that Johansson has been involved with Marvel for a decade. 

Johansson's reveal that she never even stepped foot in a gym before nabbing the Black Widow role for Iron Man 2 is pretty significant, but many would agree that the actress was able to pull off the stunts well in the Marvel sequel.

While it's a given that there is a combined effort between the actress and the stunt double, the actress' admission that she had no previous experience "with any of that stuff" further cements her dedication and passion for the role. 

This isn't the first time that Marvel actresses have opened up about training for an MCU role.

Eternals star Angelina Jolie previously admitted that she went a "little nuts" during training, with her comparing the process of performing action sequences to "a puzzle." She-Hulk star Jameela Jamil, who is set to play Titania in the Disney+ series, also revealed her intense training for her upcoming role. 

Given that Johansson is still involved with Marvel Studios, it's safe to assume that the actress will lend a hand to the franchise's future stars by giving them advice about doing stunt work and how it will improve their lifestyle over the years. 

Black Widow is now streaming on Disney+.

- In This Article: Black Widow
Release Date
July 09, 2021
- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.