Vvogue – The last time I met Scarlett Johansson, seven years ago, she had just given birth to her daughter, Rose, and had brought the infant on the press junket for a new luxury beauty launch. Johansson was running late, according to her publicists, who kept the details vague. She arrived within a few minutes, looking noticeably bright-eyed and fresh, especially for someone who was only a few months postpartum. “I’m so sorry, I was nursing my daughter,” she explained with a warmth and familiarity that were disarming coming from the woman who would shortly become the world’s highest-paid actress.

When we meet again in late fall, this time hovered over our respective computers, I am hiding from my children in a corner of my basement turned home office, while Johansson sits in her closed-door bedroom, shielded, for the moment, from her daughter and her son, Cosmo, who has just turned three months. Her Zoom background reveals a cheery frond-print wallpaper that the 37-year-old actor installed during the pandemic to simulate more tropical climes—or, she jokes, a retirement home in South Beach. “I’m so sorry I was late, I had to pump my boob,” she says, flashing a megawatt smile. Some things, it seems, haven’t changed.

Others have. “I’ve been the face of several luxury brands throughout my career, and all of those experiences were really wonderful. But—how do I put this?” she pauses, a black baseball cap semi-­obscuring a furrowed brow. “I guess I always felt like I was sort of playing a character in those campaigns, and as I evolved, I wanted to create and represent a brand that was true to me.” This month, Johansson makes good on that goal with The Outset, a six-piece line of skin-care essentials that offers simple, clean, effective, and accessible formulas.

Johansson isn’t the first celebrity to get into the beauty game. Last year alone saw the arrival of new brands from Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, Jada Pinkett Smith, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and the singer Halsey, among other A-listers hoping to add “founder” to their résumés. But there are very few beauty hopefuls with Marvel superhero franchises and indie cred—and even fewer who possess the layered intrigue that has always swirled around Johansson: the bombshell, the beauty queen, the badass assassin.

“I walked into our first meeting kind of taking a deep breath thinking, Holy crap, I’m about to meet Scarlett Johansson,” says Kate Foster Lengyel, The Outset’s cofounder, an industry veteran who was introduced to Johansson through mutual friends. She too was immediately charmed by Johansson’s intelligence and humor, which translate as a kind of normal-girl energy that you just don’t expect from Natasha Romanoff. “She’s Old Hollywood in that way,” confirms her longtime makeup artist Frankie Boyd.

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