Johansson began acting during childhood, after her mother began taking her to auditions. She made her film debut in 1994's North. After appearing in several films during the late 1990s, including a very brief appearance in the Mandy Moore video for her single "Candy", Johansson garnered praise and widespread attention for her performance in 1998's The Horse Whisperer and 2001's Ghost World.
Johansson at the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Parade in Cambridge, MA in February 2007
She won the "Upstream Prize" for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for her performance in 2003's Lost in Translation. The same year, she was nominated for two Best Actress awards at the Golden Globes, one for drama (Girl with a Pearl Earring) and one for comedy (Lost in Translation). She was nominated for Best Actress for both films at the BAFTAs, and won Best Actress for Lost in Translation.
Johansson was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in June 2004. In the same year, she starred in the films The Perfect Score, In Good Company and A Love Song for Bobby Long, the last of which earned her a third Golden Globe Award nomination. Johansson was involved for a short time with the film Mission: Impossible III, but was not officially cast because of scheduling conflicts, although a falling out with the film's star, Tom Cruise, had been both widely reported and publicly denied. She was replaced by Keri Russell.
In July 2005, Johansson starred with Ewan McGregor in Michael Bay's The Island, making her debut as a female lead in a mainstream action film. In the same year, she starred in the Woody Allen-directed drama Match Point, which opened in December. Johansson received her fourth Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the role, but lost to Rachel Weisz.
Johansson's next film, Scoop, another collaboration with Allen, was released on July 28, 2006. The same year, she appeared in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia, a film noir shot in Los Angeles and Bulgaria. Johansson has noted that she was a De Palma fan and had wanted to work with him on the film, even though she thought that she was "physically wrong" for the part.Her reviews were mixed: CNN.com noted that Johansson "takes to the pulpy period atmosphere as if it were oxygen," whereas the Kalamazoo Gazette referred to Johansson as "miscast."
On January 14, 2006, Johansson hosted Saturday Night Live. In 2006, Johansson starred in a short film directed by Bennett Miller and set to Bob Dylan's "When the Deal Goes Down...", released to promote Dylan's album, Modern Times. Johansson appeared in the Christopher Nolan thriller The Prestige, which opened on October 20, 2006. She made a return appearance on Saturday Night Live on April 21, 2007, during which she dueted with Andy Samberg for a version of Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About."
Johansson at the film set of Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2007
Johansson next appeared in 2007's The Nanny Diaries, starring alongside Laura Linney, and 2008's The Other Boleyn Girl, opposite Natalie Portman and Eric Bana. She has filmed her third Woody Allen film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, in Spain.
Johansson played femme fatale Silken Floss in Frank Miller's film noir comedy adaptation of The Spirit. The film was released in US theaters on December 25, 2008. In 2009, she had a role as a yoga instructor in He's Just Not That Into You. Johansson will portray Mary, Queen of Scots in a film. In March 2009 she signed on to play Black Widow in both Iron Man II and The Avengers.