Scarlett Johansson To Replace Natalie Portman In ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’?

By Irene Lee

There hasn’t been a whole lot of good news lately for the adaptation of the popular literary-horror crossover “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” Director David O. Russell (“Three Kings”) was set to helm, but recently bailed to take the reins of “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.” And Natalie Portman, who’d been attached to star, stepped down, though she remains involved in a producer role (is there anything this Harvard-educated beauty can’t do?).

But suddenly things are looking up. Deadline reports that Scarlett Johansson is potentially on tap to play leading lady Elizabeth Bennett to Bradley Cooper’s Mr. Darcy. And, according to Slash Film, directors Neil Marshall (“Doomsday”), David Slade (“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”), and Mike Newell (“Prince of Persia”) are circling the project.

The film, which augments Jane Austen’s tale of class and manners with the addition of some killer zombies, has some true potential … which is why I have some reservations about ScarJo taking the lead. The actress that plays Elizabeth Bennet needs to be fierce, strong-headed and powerful (and, apparently, good at lethally dispatching the undead). Johannson’s performances have never made that sort of impression on me. Yes, she did do a good action hero job in “Iron Man 2″ as Black Widow, but I think most of us were distracted by her awesome body in that outfit to notice her acting chops.

Johansson is great in nuanced character roles (“Lost In Translation” and “Match Point” anyone?), but she has yet to showcase the fiery spirit required to fill Elizabeth Bennet’s shoes (especially after Keira Knightley filled them so well in “Pride & Prejudice”).

Then again, Johannson does have some experience acting in period pieces (“Girl With the Pearl Earring”) and, if the Bradley Cooper rumors do prove true, she could benefit from appearing alongside her former “He’s Just Not That Into You” co-star, with whom she had definite chemistry. Perhaps this is the role that will see ScarJo unleash that fiery spirit upon the world… and open up a can of butt-whipping on some Victorian-era zombies, of course.

Is Scarlett the right girl to kick some zombie butt? Tell us in the comments!