Scarlett Johansson

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Scarlett Johansson became one of Hollywood's hottest stars at the age of just 19 with her performance in 2004's Lost In Translation. Despite the vulnerable, complex characters she has become known for, Scarlett's rise has been marked by a confidence beyond her years.

As a child growing up in New York, she regularly auditioned for advertising work. But the youngster's distinctive features and husky voice didn't sit well with ad execs in search of the all-American kid. Despite numerous rebuttals, however, the youngster was determined not to give up; she planned on following in the footsteps of another child star, Jodie Foster all the way to the top.

She enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute For Young People and within just a few months won a speaking part opposite Ethan Hawke in the Broadway play Sophistry. But it was in the 1998 romance The Horse Whisperer, as Kristin Scott Thomas' troubled daughter, that she caught Tinseltown's attention. The movie's leading man Robert Redford described her as "13 going on 30" and top casting agents immediately realised there was a hot new talent in town.

Scarlett grew up in New York, the joint youngest of four children she has a twin brother, Hunter. Her father, an architect, immigrated from Denmark at the age of 27, leaving behind his first wife and Scarlett's half-brother. In the Big Apple Karsten Johansson married again and established a living in New York's building trade. His second wife, Melanie, became her daughter's manager. These days the performer splits her time between her father's home in the Big Apple and a newly-acquired apartment in LA.

Those close to Scarlett were unsurprised when she chose to look outside the family for a manager, citing an apparent wisdom beyond her years. "She makes you feel like she has been around the world," says Lost In Translation director Sofia Coppola. "She has a coolness and a subtlety that you would not expect. You feel like she's seen a lot."

Despite being very much a New Yorker, Scarlett has taken to the Hollywood scene with aplomb. An A-list presence has its benefits, such as a rapidly growing art collection and a cool BMW. The actress, who is currently single, is nothing if not an independent spirit. Having proved herself as an actress she already has her sights on future challenges, which include testing her mettle behind the camera.

Most first-time directors start off with a short. Scarlett, on the other hand, is more inclined to think big. "I'd rather just dive into a feature," she says. "I don't know if I'd necessarily be good at making a short film. I definitely want to make a big epic film, not necessarily Gladiator, but a larger than life subject… I want to make all kinds of movies, I'm totally ambitious."
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