Dakota Johnson claims she’ll never work with her Fifty Shades co-star Jamie Dornan again. “If we did, it would be all about Christian and Ana back together, and you know, why do that to ourselves?” The 27-year-old daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson is an odd contrast in person. In a gray shirt and dark jeans— with her shaggy brown locks loose around her doe-like features, she’s apathetically enthusiastic— (if there’s such a thing.) Seeming to care one minute about her star-making role as Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades juggernaut, she can be entirely indifferent the next.
Or perhaps it’s just her interview style. Friendly, though prone to muttering, with short responses at times, the A-list star appears to still be coming to grips with her Hollywood superstardom. And as she claims, that might never be the case.
After a sexual awakening courtesy, of Mr. Grey in the first movie, Anastasia returns in Darker as an empowered individual who lays down the law with her paramour and ends up in a fresh haze of trouble when figures from Christian’s past begin to emerge. One of these figures is Kim Basinger, playing the role of the enigmatic Elena Lincoln, who Johnson has the great privilege of throwing a drink in her face.
Dakota also talks about feeling less pressure this time round and why she’s fallen in love with Jamie’s kids. She also talks her family influence, words from grandmother— Tippi Hedren, and the aftermath of the Nice attacks. Johnson is single and lives in LA.
STRIPLV: Back for the follow-up, how do you feel coming back and doing it all over again?
JOHNSON: The pressure is gone. Well, almost gone. We’re comfortable, confident in ourselves, people liked what we did in the first movie when everything felt like a risk. Everything felt kind of nerve-wracking. How is this going to received? How will the fans take this? All that stuff. So knowing that was covered and ticked off, is a big relief.
STRIPLV: You and Jamie seem to have become really close?
JOHNSON: It’s genuinely one of the fastest closest friendships I’ve ever made in my life, just based on the amount of time we’ve actually known and been around each other. I love Jamie. I trust him, and I don’t know, I really couldn’t tell you if I could have done this without him. He’s my dream partner and supported me. I’ve supported him. It’s a lot to ask of two people, of two actors, to take on these highly emotional, sexual situations, but I think we’ve done us proud. He’ll be my friend for the rest of my life. I adore him; I adore his wife and his gorgeous babies. They’re like a perfect little family unit. Just gorgeous.
STRIPLV: So you spent a lot of time with his family?
JOHNSON: That’s was probably the best part of the shoot, getting to hang out and play with them. So cute.
STRIPLV: Was it weird doing these love scenes with Jamie, and then hanging out with his wife?
JOHNSON: No, she’s the coolest.
STRIPLV: Anastasia is very different in this film. She’s evolved and matured. What was your take on that?
JOHNSON: This is what I loved about Anastasia and why I wanted to do these movies. I loved her arc from very innocent, very inexperienced, a lack of life experience. And you see this emotional, spiritual, intellectual, sexual journey from the beginning to an empowered, strong, badass with integrity and grace. There’s not a moment for me where I think she compromises herself. That journey to me was fascinating.
STRIPLV: Jamie says the sex is better in this one, do you agree?
JOHNSON: The sex is definitely better in this one. Undoubtedly, because they know each other, those initial bursts of passion that can be panicked, especially for her. She knows more what she wants. She’s more confident now and has an understanding of what’s making him tick in this head. Their connection is stronger; their emotions are deeper. That makes sex better, doesn’t it!
STRIPLV: You’re once again, getting naked. Have your inhibitions lowered?
JOHNSON: I don’t know if I had very strong inhibitions. I have no problem with nudity. Never have, never will. I think the human body is beautiful. I grew up being told to love your body and be comfortable with yourself.
STRIPLV: Have you always wanted to follow in your parent’s footsteps?
JOHNSON: It was what I always dreamed of— it’s what makes me happiest.
STRIPLV: What advice did they give you, or indeed your grandmother, about the industry?
JOHNSON: My grandmother is an idol to me. She gives me so much inspiration and strength from her words and how she navigated this industry. She just tells me to trust my instincts, trust myself, be myself.
STRIPLV: Have your parents’ seen them yet?
JOHNSON: Seen the movies? No, that is not happening nor will it ever happen (laughs). And I think that’s hard for them to go through— just this huge movement around these movies that I’m a part of but not being able to watch them, I know is tough. But I made them promise, and they respect that.
STRIPLV: You have an amazing scene with Kim Basinger where you throw a drink in her face. What was that like to shoot?
JOHNSON: I hated it! Oh god, I hated it, it felt so awful. It felt like I was going against all laws of nature, so disrespectful. It’s Kim Basinger for god’s sake. I kept apologizing, but she was like, “Lets go again, go nuts!” I had to practice on other people on set. I wanted to on Jamie, but it would have messed him up for the scene— (laughs) so this line producer kept getting it in the face over and over. Like I missed a few times, clean past. That’s why I had to practice, wanted it done and over with— definitely one of the strangest moments in my career so far, and probably my life.
STRIPLV: How has your life changed since the first movie came out?
JOHNSON: It’s weird that people seem to know so much about me. That’s very confronting, and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that. This feeling that I don’t fully belong to myself anymore, that a part of me belongs to, is exposed I guess, is very strange and accosting. And I’ll never find that normal. I’ll never think that’s just part of my life. I think it’s really weird that I have fans. Even saying, “I have fans,” it feels awkward. My friends would laugh at me if I just casually threw out there, “Those are my fans.” They’d be like, “Who are you?” To have so much love
for these movies, so much love for Christian and Anastasia, that’s amazing and touching, and I love that. They make them happy. It’s a cool feeling.
STRIPLV: You were in Nice during the July terrorist attacks last year. What effect did that have on you?
JOHNSON: It’s truly devastating, but we weren’t even in Nice when it happened. We had driven through shortly before it happened. I can’t begin to say how it affected me when so many people were directly affected by what happened. I can’t imagine. I mean, it was so awful. Unimaginable. I remember feeling like we were intruding the next day— like we shouldn’t have been there, but the French crew was inspiring. They were like, “We need to keep going. We need to continue living our lives.” I just think that was so moving and powerful.
STRIPLV: You’re done now with Fifty Shades. No more filming. What will you miss most about working on these movies?
JOHNSON: Jamie. I’ll miss his jokes. Which most of them are funny, some not so much (laughs). I’ll miss the people, the crew, and cast. They’re like family now.