Luca Carlino—LUZ/Redux

I always felt a kinship with Scarlett Johansson because she was born on my birthday, in the year I was married. Then she was cast to play Janet Leigh, my mother, in the movie Hitchcock. We spoke—she wanted to understand my mother’s interior life. There were obvious touch points: they shared Danish roots, a passion for acting and multiple talents. There’s a moment in that movie that startles me, where I look at Scarlett and she is my mother.

I recently watched her own the screen as the Black Widow, who exacts revenge on a powerful figure who manipulates (emphasis on man) women to fight for him. And then I saw her brilliant response to a real-life manipulation (same emphasis), when she filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the studio, alleging its decision to release the film simultaneously in theaters and on streaming cost her substantial losses in pay.

Whether as an assassin with a conscience, an actor with an emotional center or, having just given birth to her second child, a fierce mother, the message is clear: Don’t f-ck with this mama bear.

Curtis is an actor and author

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