I don’t want to call it a problem. A healthy young woman in control of her life and choices being pregnant is never a problem. But when you’re an actress in a high-profile franchise that is just days away from starting principal photography and your character is expected to carry a sizeable chunk of the movie, and the role is physical and the costume is unforgiving, well. It’s a situation.
As we found out on Monday, Scarlett Johansson is pregnant. My immediate reaction was to joke that Marvel probably wasn’t super thrilled to hear that, because The Avengers: Age of Ultron is gearing up to start filming in London (they’re already doing stunt stuff with RDJ and Mark Ruffalo) in literally just days. I texted Lainey that night wondering if the news coming out when it did was not so much about ScarJo babyjacking the Oscars but because The Avengers 2—a production that will be under microscopic scrutiny each and every day—is about to start and there’s no way there’s not some chaos in that production office right now.
As further proof that I am psychic (exhibit A: Predicting Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar two years in advance), this is, indeed, the case. Johansson’s ship remains tight as the news leaked from other directions since yes, Marvel is scrambling to reorganize so they can accommodate her pregnancy and there are just too many people making too many decisions in too many places to contain it. It’s not a problem, because it can be handled. But it presents logistical challenges to the production, not least of which involve stunt coordination and rescheduling her shooting days so she can finish up before she starts showing.
This is the double standard of pregnancy, though. RDJ’s wife got pregnant while he was making The Avengers. Chris Hemsworth’s wife is pregnant now. Their professional life was not and will not be affected. They get a big “Congratulations!” followed by “business as usual”. But Johansson gets “Congratulations, now let’s talk about all the ways this screws us.” It’s the celebrity equivalent of women in the workplace getting paid less because sometimes they take time off to have a baby (which is a ridiculous f*cking argument). Johansson’s paycheck won’t be affected, but there’s no escaping that this is putting out the production when her male co-stars having babies during the same time frame is no big deal at all.
I don’t know what the solution is, except to wish Johansson well and put on some coffee for the production staff at Marvel. It’s a situation but it can be handled. A healthy young woman in control of her life and choices is having a baby. It’s not the end of the world, even for your $250 million production.