Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson
She is the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, who has made a name for herself in the movie industry. He is a happily married father-of-one who isn't scared of playing complex and dark characters. Together, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, they form one of the hottest on-screen couple: Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. Prestige sat down with both of them to talk about their real-life friendship, their respective characters and filming the third movie of the Fifty Shades series, Fifty Shades Freed, out on the 8th of February across Lebanon.
Now that the third and last movie of the Fifty Shades series is completed, how do you feel?
Dakota: I feel nostalgic, grateful for the experience and excited for the future.
How was the last day on set?
Dakota: It was very surreal, we had worked all night and were waiting for the sun to come out for the last shot, but it seemed like it never would! We were waiting and waiting...and then finally we got the shot and it was a beautiful morning.
After Anastasia reconnects with Christian in the second film, but under her terms, how does their relationship evolve now in Fifty Shades Freed?
Dakota: I think that in this film both Anastasia and Christian have figured out that it's going to be a constant flux of control and power between both of them. But, because they have decided to get married, they have made a conscious decision to honor each other and focus on their relationship as something that has a life of its own. That way, no outside influence or threat can tarnish it. That being said, Anastasia has acknowledged and accepted the more sexual and dominating side of herself, which is a driving force in the film.
How does Anastasia deal with being married?
Dakota: Because they mirror each other a lot, once they get married Anastasia becomes a bit more confident due to the fact that she has more responsibilities. Now it's not just about her life, but also about the life of her husband and ultimately of their children. I do think marriage suits her.
Anastasia Steele is such an iconic character. How do you see her?
Dakota: She is a very honorable woman, smart, tough, dignified and graceful. She respects herself and others. She is a compassionate, forthright, and inspiring woman and a good person.
How would you say Anastasia has grown over the course of these three movies?
Dakota: Anastasia has a great emotional and psychological arch. Coming from a very protected environment with a semi-naive outlook, to ending up being the ultimate fierce, brave, expressive and protective woman. These are the traits I admire the most about her, along with the fact that she is perpetually true to herself. There is not one moment in which she compromises herself for anyone or anything. That makes her an unexpectedly good role model for women struggling to discover their strength.
Christian Grey is quite a complex human being. A character that complex must be a great challenge for an actor.
Dakota: I believe Jamie has brought sophistication and some comedic accent to the role. Christian could have been a character that is quite cold and shut off, but Jamis is a tender person that gave him a level of warmth.
At the heart of it all is the story of two people that truly love each other.
Dakota: I think that Christian and Anastasia find themselves in each other. There truly is deeply invested love, and with that comes explosive passion without judgment. There is no other person for the other.
But their love is tested in each film. What is the biggest challenge they have to face in Fifty Shades Freed?
Dakota: The biggest test is the fact that she gets pregnant before either of them are really ready to have a baby. Having to lose a part of her is a threat to Christian and maybe subconsciously to Anastasia as well, because she is so young. And then there are a few people that try to mess with them a lot and ruin their relationship. Jack Hyde comes back and is not in a very good mood about things...
Which means there is quite a bit action...
Dakota: There are thriller aspects for sure, to the point where Anastasia's life is put in jeopardy...
So, like the previous movies, is there also room for humor in Fifty Shades Freed?
Dakota: Absolutely, you need the comic relief in these films.
And do you both have a giggle on ser, too?
Jamie: We have to! I wouldn't do this job if I didn't have fun at work. I remember we couldn't stop laughing during the wedding scene when we realized that the same guy who was with us un the elevator sequence of the first movie was sitting there in the front row. Life is too short and you have to enjoy it. Dakota and I make each other laugh far too easily. You have to respect your job, but also have fun because we are actors and our mission is to entertain people.
Who is worse at keeping a straight face?
Jamie: Dakota, because once she really laughs you can't stop her to the point where she is even crying and has to step away.
Dakota: Oh yes. I laugh and it's over it's like a runaway train and we have to reset.
So not only do you have great chemistry on screen together but you also both get along very well.
Jamie: We are very fond of each other. Dakota and I had to have chemistry to make this work from the get-go, and now we will continue to be friends despite it coming to an end. We have gone through this journey together. We truly understand what that has meant. I believe we will always have each other's back precisely because of the impact these roles have had on our careers and our personalities. It is quite a bond that lasts forever.
Dakota: Absolutely, I feel we will be friends forever. Jamie and I have gone through this journey together and he is the closest to knowing what the experience has been like and vice versa.
How has that relationship and chemistry helped you shoot the more intense and intimate scenes?
Dakota: If we didn't get along as well as we do, it would have been so much more difficult. Shooting intimate scenes is not comfortable, and they are amplified as the story moves on; so, if I hadn't trusted him or felt safe it would have been a nightmare.
Jamie: In those situations, it all comes down to trust. You can feel very exposed and vulnerable when you shoot them. We knew that we had each other's back and we were even capable of having a bit of a laugh, which is good. In the first film, we were still getting to know each other, but I believe that our friendship has certainly taken a step forward since then and made those moments easier for us.
You shot Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed back-to-back. Did that help in any way?
Dakota: It did, because it's easier to just keep going instead of breaking for months to do something completely different; although it was a bit confusing at times, as we would flip back and forth between both movies. But I'm glad we did it that way because it gave me creative freedom and the ability to move on.
What do you think Jame Foley has brought to the second and third films of the series as a director?
Dakota: He is a very smart filmmaker. He has a great work ethic and is very good with actors, allowing you to play with the character and being very open to discussion and ideas, and he was always forgiving of the circumstances. So if there was a moment where I felt particularly vulnerable or uncomfortable in any way, he was totally protective and very malleable to what Jamie and I were feeling or needing. From the get-go, James had a clear vision of what he wanted to do and how to execute it.
How important was it to have E.L James - author of the books and produce of these movies - present during the shoot?
Dakota: Because with an adaptation you can never put the whole book into a movie, you want to make sure you are getting all the right parts so it was nice to know that if I ever had a question or if I was unsure about something very small she would be there.