Scarlett Johansson reflects on 'Black Widow' Disney lawsuit: 'It feels like some progress'

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Scarlett Johansson has had quite a year.

In the past six months, the veteran film star welcomed a baby boy named Cosmo with her husband, "Saturday Night Live" comedian Colin Jost; appeared on screen in the massive superhero flick "Black Widow" after months of pandemic delays; and filed (and later resolved) a lawsuit against one of the most powerful studios in Hollywood.

And on Thursday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel – the customary home of the Golden Globe Awards – the 35th annual American Cinematheque Award Show honored Johansson, 36, for her storied career, which she started as a child star. The award is “presented annually to an extraordinary artist currently making a significant contribution” to film.

The ceremony also marked one of Johansson's first public appearances since she sued Disney. In her lawsuit, which she resolved with the studio in September, Johansson claimed the simultaneous streaming and theatrical release of "Black Widow" broke her contract and affected her salary, which her lawsuit said was based in large part on box-office performance. 

It was a fierce move, but on the red carpet Johansson was all smiles, telling USA TODAY she's glad she took action against Disney, even though the situation was "a little bit scary" and felt like "uncharted territory."

Honoree Scarlett Johansson speaks onstage during the 35th Annual American Cinematheque Awards at The Beverly Hilton on Nov. 18, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California.

"I feel very fortunate that I was able to stand up for what was right," she said, with Jost standing by and holding her glass of champagne as he chatted up her Marvel co-star Jeremy Renner. "In the end, I’m really thankful that no one else will ever have to deal with that, and so that feels good to me. … It feels like some progress."

With the lawsuit behind her, Johansson, who is also mom to her 7-year-old daughter Rose whom she shares with her ex-husband Romain Dauriac, says she's been busy soaking up the "miracle" of motherhood and ogling her 4-month-old.

"I’m very fortunate I’ve had time to enjoy my early motherhood and not be working tirelessly," she said. "When I had my daughter, I think at this point I was shooting ‘Captain America 3,’ it was a lot to jump into. I was very thankful to be working at that time, and now I’m very thankful to not be."

As for her next career goals, the actress has her sights set on opportunities behind the camera.

"Maybe someday I would direct something," she said. "I could see that being very fulfilling – the right thing at the right time."

Jamie Lee Curtis, admitting she's never met Scarlett Johansson in person, gave an unforgettable first impression by strutting onto the stage at the American Cinematheque Awards in full Swedish attire, complete with a blonde, braided wig.

Jamie Lee Curtis dons Swedish attire to meet Scarlett Johansson for first time

After the red carpet, top industry players paid tribute to Johansson throughout the ceremony, including Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and director Jon Favreau.

But the most outlandish speech came from Jamie Lee Curtis who, admitting she's never met Johansson in person, gave an unforgettable first impression by strutting onto the stage in full Swedish attire, complete with a blonde, braided wig.

"My name is Scarlett. I'm from Denmark," Curtis began, in a poor Swedish accent, before revealing the truth. "OK, (expletive) it. … The truth is, I was too lazy to try to figure out what a Danish accent sounded like, and since they're sort of close enough in geographic proximity, I figured that you fine, creative people would give me a break and just be delighted by my outfit."

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Curtis went on to say that, like Johansson, she is half-Danish, half-Jewish and a mother of two. Yet despite their similarities, the actresses have never met in person, Curtis said, save for text messages, gift exchanges (which, "for show business, that makes us very close friends") and a phone call when Johansson played Curtis' mother, “Psycho” star Janet Leigh, in the 2012 film "Hitchcock."

Curtis then paused her speech to properly introduce herself.

"Scarlett! Hi, it's Jamie! I love you!" she shouted from the stage. "I'm your biggest fan!"

"I'm your biggest fan!" Johansson, flanked by Jost and her brother Hunter, called back from her table about 50 feet away.

"No, I am your biggest fan! This is amazing!" Curtis said. "It was worth it to buy the outfit on eBay just for that moment."

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Marvel president Kevin Feige teases 'top secret' project

And it turns out Johansson may have more Marvel collaborations in her future. In between praising Johansson's talents, Feige made a brief mention in his speech that Johansson is working on another Marvel Studios endeavor.

"Jon Favreau mentioned repeat business (in his speech)," Feige said. "We already are working with Scarlett on another non-'Black Widow' related, top secret Marvel Studios project."

The Marvel Studios president added that working with Johansson "has truly been one of the most memorable and rewarding collaborations of my career."

"Thank you for everything," he said. "You're, of course, a real-life superhero."

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