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Scarlett Johansson is now 37-years-old, but she came to fame in her teen years. In a new interview on Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert, she explained how even then, she knew the way she was being treated was inappropriate. And aging her up considerably.

“I kind of became objectified and pigeonholed in this way where I felt like I wasn’t getting offers for work for things that I wanted to do,” she explained. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘I think people think I’m 40 years old.’ It somehow stopped being something that was desirable and something that I was fighting against.”

Constantly being courted for the same type of roles again and again left Johansson with the impression that there there was a very clear stopping point to her career ahead.
“Because I think everybody thought I was older and that I’d been [acting] for a long time, I got kind of pigeonholed into this weird hypersexualized thing,” she continued. “I felt like [my career] was over. It was like: that’s the kind of career you have, these are the roles you’ve played. And I was like, ‘This is it?’”

She added, “The runway is not long on that. So it was scary at that time… I attributed a lot of that to the fact that people thought I was much, much older than I was.”

The Black Widow actress says that she sees younger actors and notices how things have changed since she began her career.

“Now, I see younger actors that are in their 20s. It feels like they’re allowed to be all these different things,” Johansson said. “It’s another time, too. We’re not even allowed to really pigeonhole other actors anymore, thankfully, right? People are much more dynamic.”

But there’s still a long way to go, in her opinion.

“We live in a patriarchy and I feel like there’s a fundamental reality of the woman’s condition that will always, even if those 600 men are not actively aggressive necessarily as much as they would have been a minute ago, it’s still fundamentally there,” she said. “It’s so baked into our culture and society. It’s hard for me to imagine that ever being not an element.”

Being in her thirties, Johansson said that she felt caught “between two worlds” or two generations approach to dealing with patriarchy in the entertainment industry.

“We had our mothers who were like, ‘Use whatever you can to get what the thing you need. Use your feminine wiles. Use your sexuality,’” she said. “And then there’s our generation I think that’s done that and also [said], ‘This doesn’t feel right, there’s gotta be some other way.’ And there’s the younger generation of women who are like 15 years younger than me, who are ‘You don’t have to take any of that crap. No pandering.’ There’s this system that’s completely rejected. It’s an interesting place to be in the in between of.”

Ultimately, the actress believes progress is “two steps forward and two steps back.”

“It’s not finite,” she said. “I think if you don’t leave room for people to figure it out, then the actual progressive change doesn’t really happen.”