Scarlett Johansson has mixed feelings about marriage.
The twice-married actress, who is in the process of divorcing Romain Dauriac, shares her feelings in Playboy's March/April issue. The interview was seemingly conducted before their split, and Johansson doesn't hold back. "Well, with every gain there's a loss, right? So that's a loss. You have to choose a path. I think the idea of marriage is very romantic; it's a beautiful idea, and the practice of it can be a very beautiful thing," the actress says. "I don't think it's natural to be a monogamous person. I might be skewered for that, but I think it's work. It's a lot of work."
"And the fact that it is such work for so many people—for everyone—the fact of that proves that it is not a natural thing," Johansson continues. "It's something I have a lot of respect for and have participated in, but I think it definitely goes against some instinct to look beyond."
The very idea of matrimony gives the 32-year-old actress pause. "I think marriage initially involves a lot of people who have nothing to do with your relationship, because it's a legally binding contract, and that has a weight to it. Being married is different than not being married, and anybody who tells you that it's the same is lying. It changes things. I have friends who were together for 10 years and then decided to get married, and I'll ask them on their wedding day or right after if it's different, and it always is. It is," says Johansson, who separated from her first husband, actor Ryan Reynolds, in 2010. "It's a beautiful responsibility, but it's a responsibility."
But marriage "felt different" after she married Dauriac in 2014. "I had a really young baby at the time, so that also—our family dynamic was just different. I don't know. Whatever that is, the thing you can't fully put words to, it changed," she says. And, "of course," it felt different from her marriage to Reynolds. "I had a baby, and also my husband was coming from another country and becoming a citizen of this country," Johansson recalls. "It was a huge transition for both of us, and certainly for him—moving here, committing to the States. But I think my husband has embraced America, and New York in particular, in this really endearing way..."
For two years, Johansson and Dauraic split their time between her native New York City and his native Paris. "My job takes me all over the place, so I don't even know where I live," she admitted. "I guess now we're kind of committed to living here because with our daughter we have to commit to someplace. She'll be in school in a hot minute. The time passes like crazy."
Despite previous high-profile romances, Johansson claims she "never dated anyone" in her youth, so she's "a bad person" to ask for dating advice. "I would never want to be in my early 20s again, though I did a lot of fun stuff. I wish I knew that everything changes and that nothing is forever—except death," she says. "It probably would've freed up a lot of space in my brain."
"I was listening to this TED Talk about relationships, and the person who was giving the talk was saying that in moments when you're starting a new relationship and your friends and family say, 'No, this is a red flag. This person is not for you.' Why do we ignore those people who know us so well in the moments that we don't? And then we distance ourselves from them because we're embarrassed or whatever. It's interesting how sometimes all you need is your good friend to tell you that you're not acting like yourself," the Ghost in the Shell actress explains. "Or that they see something in front of you that is not beneficial for you or true to who you actually are.
"I don't know," Johansson admits. "It's so easy to just go, 'No, I don't want to hear that.'"
Johansson may not know much about romantic love, but she knows plenty about maternal love. "Just the process of being pregnant and giving birth was incredibly profound," she says. "Also surrendering to the fact that with babies, and particularly infants and toddlers, you have to let go of your expectations and of whatever instincts you have to take control of the situation. Of course, being a mother, you have to make decisions all the time that affect this person who is completely dependent on you, but you also have to surrender to the experience, and that in itself is really liberating. For me, it's the best thing that has ever happened. Ever."
"Somebody once described it to me as your heart growing this other chamber, and I think that's really profoundly true," Johansson continues. "Your capacity to love something, at least in my experience, deepens to a whole other space. I think I was afraid that life would change, and it does; it dramatically changes. But I feel in a lot of ways more myself now than I did before."
For more from Johansson, pick up Playboy's March/April issue, on newsstands Feb. 28.