Johansson’s foray into acting started in her childhood days when her mother accompanied her to auditions. She first showed her acting chops at the age of eight in an off-Broadway production called “Sophistry,” where she acted alongside Ethan Hawke at New York’s Playwrights Horizons. Although she auditioned for commercials, the constant rejection took a toll on her, prompting her mother to limit her to film auditions. Johansson eventually landed minor roles in films such as “Just Cause,” where she played the daughter of Sean Connery and Kate Capshaw’s characters, and “If Lucy Fell.” Her big break came when she played Amanda in “Manny Lo.”
Scarlett Johansson received a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Female due to her outstanding performance in Manny Lo. She also received positive feedback from critics, with one reviewer highlighting her charm and another noting her peaceful aura. Mick LaSalle, a critic from the San Francisco Chronicle, even predicted that if she could maintain her aura through puberty, she had the potential to become a significant actress.
Following her appearances in Fall and Home Alone 3 in minor roles, Scarlett Johansson gained significant recognition for her portrayal of Grace MacLean in The Horse Whisperer, directed by Robert Redford. In the film, Johansson played a teenager who is deeply affected by a riding accident. Her performance was well received, leading to a nomination for the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Actress. In 1999, Johansson also appeared in the movie My Brother the Pig as well as in the music video for Mandy Moore’s hit single “Candy.”