(HOLLYWOOD REPORTER) -- When Scarlett Johansson met writer-director Noah Baumbach for lunch in 2016 to talk about a role, she was in the midst of a private ordeal, divorcing her second husband, Frenchman Romain Dauriac. Baumbach, who didn't know about Johansson's pending split, was eager to discuss an unusually exposing film he was writing. The tragicomic story would explore terrain Baumbach encountered while ending his marriage to actress Jennifer Jason Leigh — the hideous fights, the mercenary lawyers, the wistful moments of wondering whether things could be different.
Before Baumbach launched into his pitch about why he thought Johansson would be perfect for the role opposite Adam Driver, the actress shared what was going on in her marriage. "It totally caught me off guard," Baumbach says. "I was like, 'Well, you're going to either hate this idea or love it. This may be exactly not the headspace you want to be putting yourself in, or maybe it will be healing.' " The movie, Marriage Story, turned out to be the latter. "We talked a lot about the actual experience of divorce because I was in the middle of the process," Johansson says. "We talked about becoming a parent, and our parents. The expectation that comes with being in any kind of a relationship, and the disappointment that can come with that expectation."