Proving herself well suited to life in the spotlight as she posed alongside co-star Jamie Dornan ahead of the Paris premiere their new film Fifty Shades Freed, Dakota Johnson looked every inch the leading lady. This year’s must-see Valentine’s Day film the last in the racy Fifty Shades trilogy, ending a collaboration between the two that stretches back four years and has seen hem strike up a close bond. “He’s awesome,” she says of the Northern Irish actor and father of two, who plays Christian Grey in the films. “He’s talented and smart and funny and he’s a great friend. He’s fantastic. If you’re going to spend four years working with someone, it’s a long time, but he’s just a joy to be around. And when he brings his beautiful babies to the set, it’s like a breath of fresh air. It’s good to have a castmate who is like a built-in friend.” When it comes to her own love life, Dakota is coy. Last time we met she was single and looking for a man who “is kind and intelligent and can keep up with me”. Since then she’s started dating Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, but she politely refuses to comment on their three-month relationship, saying: “I’d rather keep that private.”
The granddaughter of actress Tippi Hedren and daughter of Hollywood stars Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, Dakota has been marching to the beat of her own drum for most of her 28 years, up to and including taking the part of Anastasia Steele in the erotic series – a move that did not please her parents, she says. “But they kind of didn’t have a choice. I’ve always been rebellious and I was pretty adamant about this. Neither of my parents have seen the films just because it’s inappropriate for them. But they’re okay about it. They don’t judge me on what projects I decide to do in my work. They judge me on what kind of human I am to other humans.” When she first signed on for the role, she was more than a little daunted by the idea of the sex scenes. “I was 23 turning 24 and I’d never done a sex scene in a film. Oh, that’s not true. I did one but it was in a comedy so it doesn’t count. But I hadn’t been nude before and so this was scary. But, you know, it was a character I wanted to play and I just got on with it. “As an actor, I think jobs come to you when you’re ready for them, and I’m quite comfortable with my body. I grew up being taught by my mother that women are beautiful and that it’s okay to have a body. There’s nothing wrong with it.”
Over the course of the Fifty Shades trilogy we have seen the previously timid and inexperienced Anastasia take more control in the relationship, something Dakota has enjoyed. “I love the way she changes. Ana starts out as a young woman who is fairly naïve and is not really concerned about her love life or her looks or furthering herself socially. It’s more about her career. And then she meets Christian and things become very intertwined. She grows into a really fierce young woman who discovered that perhaps her sexual preferences are more similar to his than she initially expected. “One thing I have learned from making these movies is that there’s not one right kind of love. I’ve learned that from my life, too.” Dakota has something on her mind other than her new project, too – the #TimesUp movement to fight sexual harassment. “There’s a sense of solidarity between women that I hadn’t experienced before now. Everybody seems to be talking to everybody about it. I’ve made friends with women I’ve admired my whole life because of this. Women are talking and we’re not going to go away.”
It is a cause close to Dakota’s heart. Although she has never experienced sexual harassment herself, her grandmother Tippi says director Alfred Hitchcock abused her on the set of The Birds, going so far as having real birds attack her in one scene instead of mechanical ones that could be controlled. “It was a terrible thing she went through with Hitchcock. My Mom was a young girl at the time and had to be looked after. My grandmother told me that it was such a tumultuous and horrific experience that when she went home she’d just go to sleep. If I can do something to make a change for future actresses when they come on to a set, then I will definitely try to do that.”
For the time being, Dakota is busy settling into the Los Angeles house she bought last year. Despite the Hollywood lifestyle, celebrity boyfriend and blockbuster films, she’s a “homebody” at heart. “I’ve been painting it in warm earth tones like greens and roses and I love it. My home is important to me. I would rather be at home with my close friends talking cooking – I love to cook – or even being alone. Being at home is when I’m happiest.”
Scans Thanks to Us.
Scans Thanks to Us.