First came the book, then came the film – and the globe couldn’t stop chattering about them. But now, Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson says her role in the kinky movie has left men rather more lost for words when it comes to talking to her.
In fact the star, who snatched up the role of naive Anastasia Steele opposite Jamie Dornan’s Christian Grey, finds men are too scared to approach her.
“I don’t know why, you tell me,” she says with a smile. “I think I’m a fairly approachable person.”
Maybe they fear they’ll never match up to the indomitable Grey?
“Some people think this is something I’m interested in, in my private life, which is not the case,” she says of Fifty Shades’ S&M eroticism.
“I’m an actor, I pretend. But I guess it’s something that happens with a lot of actors; people think that, in real life, they are like the characters they play.”
The actress, 26, split up with Welsh singer Matt Hitt, of indie rock band Drowners, last year and admits she can feel a bit lonely at times.
She says: “My life has changed dramatically. There are times that I feel lonely, but then I just watch movies and read books and I’m happy that I have the time to do those things. I cherish my solitude.
“Luckily I have such a distraction in my job, I don’t think about men very often. All of my focus is on my job at the moment.”
Fame might be new to Dakota, but she is a third-generation star. Her parents are Miami Vice veteran Don Johnson and Working Girl star Melanie Griffith , 58.
Her stepdad is Antonio Banderas and her grandmother is Tippi Hedren, heroine of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
“From day one I spent my entire childhood on film sets, surrounded by filmmakers and actors,” she says. “Apart from school, that was the main staple in my life.
“We were always watching movies and going to the movies, and they were always making movies. I just wanted to always make films, too.”
This background made presenting her parents with Fifty Shades a little easier. Dakota has admitted she saw her parents act out sex scenes long before they saw hers.
“I was around for a lot of it,” she has said of their work. “And I would watch them. But there were also things I could see that I didn’t want to, like watch my parents have sex with other people.”
In her latest film, romcom How To Be Single with Rebel Wilson, Dakota plays naive Alice, who leaves her boyfriend to move to New York and into a new dating scene.
“I don’t know,” she says. “I have my friends that I’ve been friends with forever and it’s kind of hard meeting new people. Why, you got someone for me?”
Before Matt, Dakota was romantically involved with musician Noah Gersh and actor Jordan Masterson. But she says: “I haven’t really been on a lot of dates. I’ve only been in long-term relationships.”
Of the dates she has been on, she says: “The worst one was when I got broken up with while wearing a Halloween costume. I was dressed as Steve Jobs.”
In the film, Alice falls for three men. Dakota, who lives alone in New York, believes it’s vital to enjoy being single.
“It’s important for young women to know it’s OK to explore the world and yourself without the pressures of other people’s opinion on you,” she says.
“There’s less of a stigma on being single nowadays. But the real message of the movie is that women should love themselves and take care of their hearts and brains, and also not feel bad about going out and having a good time or experiencing different people.
“There shouldn’t be a stigma on women sleeping with men.”
Fifty Shades fans will be relieved to know she and Dornan will soon begin filming sequel Fifty Shades Darker , with Kim Basinger as Grey’s older ex.
Dakota says: “We shot the first movie two years ago, so it’s going to be a challenge to get back into that. But it’s going to be great.”
The actress got her first proper role in The Social Network in 2010.
Last year she played the mother of Johnny Depp’s character Whitey Bulger in Black Mass, but it was Fifty Shades of Grey that changed her life.
“Sometimes it’s so exciting” she says. “And then there are other times where it’s scary and daunting and I don’t know if I’m handling it the right way. My experiences are completely different.”
Dakota may be new to global fame, but she made her film debut at 10 in her mum and stepfather’s flick Crazy in Alabama. She then tried modelling.
But an early rise to stardom was halted. Both her parents experienced addiction and Dakota has previously admitted it took a toll.
She said: “My parents had some problems of their own that put me in a position of having to deal with very grown-up stuff at a very young age. I needed some help with that, therapy-wise.”
Griffith has spent three spells in rehab while Johnson, 66, has twice sought treatment. The pair got together when Griffith was only 14 and Johnson 22.
They were married twice, before splitting in 1995 after Griffith fell for her Two Much co-star Banderas.
Dakota remains close to her dad and her mum, who had recent guest roles in TV series Hawaii 5-0. Dakota wants to see her in another movie, but admits Hollywood isn’t easy for older women.
“I want to see what she has inside of her that she wants to put into a project, because that’s what I admire in actresses and actors,” she says.
“But mostly it’s brutal for women. It’s sad to think that this industry survives on what’s popular instead of what is actually good.”
You sense Dakota foresees snakes as well as ladders ahead for her, too, but one thing is clear – the girl who embraced one of film’s most controversial roles is not about to shy from them.