Scarlett Johansson was born in New York City. Her father, Karsten Johansson, was born in Denmark; her mother, Melanie Sloan, comes from a Bronx-bred Jewish American family. Johansson's maternal ancestors originally came from Poland. The granddaughter of screenwriter and director Ejner Johansson and the sister of actress Vanessa Johansson and twin sister to actor Hunter Johansson, and non-actor older half-brother Christian, she graduated from The Professional Children's School in Manhattan in 2002.
Johansson's roles include Grace MacLean in The Horse Whisperer (which was credited as her film debut), Rebecca in Ghost World, Charlotte in Lost in Translation, Griet in Girl with a Pearl Earring, Francesca in The Perfect Score and Nola in Match Point. All of these performances garnered positive critical notice. She was nominated for two best actress awards at the Golden Globes in 2003, one for drama (Girl with a Pearl Earring) and one for comedy (Lost in Translation). She was also nominated for best actress for both of those films at the BAFTAs, and won best actress for Lost in Translation. Johansson is also the voice of Princess Mindy in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.
Scarlett was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in June 2004. Also in 2004, she starred in A Love Song for Bobby Long, a film that, despite being widely ignored by the movie-going public (grossing only $964,308 worldwide), earned Scarlett a third Golden Globe Award nomination.
Johansson was attached for a short time to the upcoming film Mission: Impossible III but did not join the cast, officially because of scheduling conflicts, although a falling out with Tom Cruise has been both widely reported and officially denied. She was replaced by Keri Russell. She was cast as Rebecca in ensemble independent film Thumbsucker, but dropped out before filming. She was replaced by Kelli Garner.
In July 2005, Johansson starred with Ewan McGregor in the Michael Bay-directed The Island. It was her debut as the female lead in a mainstream action film. She drew some attention when she mentioned that she'd wanted to film the sex scene in the film topless (she hadn't liked the bra the wardrobe department had given her) but director Michael Bay disapproved, wanting to turn in a PG-13 film. When the movie opened to weak reviews and an even weaker box office, the producers of the film accused Johansson of failing to connect with or attract a mainstream audience.
On August 19, 2005, Johansson, trailed in her car by four SUVs carrying paparazzi, tried to escape by driving into the Disneyland parking lot in Anaheim, California. Her Mercedes struck a car containing a woman and her two daughters; nobody was injured in the fender bender, which was photographed by the paparazzi.
Scarlett Johansson was featured in an advertisement campaign for the Calvin Klein perfume "Moment". She has also modeled for the French luxury brand Louis Vuitton and in January 2006 was signed to L'Oreal.
Her film Match Point, directed by Woody Allen, opened in December of 2005. Johansson received a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe nomination for her performance, her fourth, though the award went to Rachel Weisz for her role in The Constant Gardener.
Johansson was featured nude on the cover of the February 2006 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, with Keira Knightley. In March of 2006, she topped FHM's poll of the sexiest women alive, and responded to the news by saying that she was flattered to be thought sexy.