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It's been a long time coming but Dakota Johnson is finally getting the earth-shattering Fifty Shades climax she's been waiting for. In fact, the 28-year-old actress has had to hold off her last lusty liaison with Hollywood's steamiest ever film franchise for much longer than you might think. Fifty Shades Freed, the last movie in based on E.L James' bestselling books, was shot back-to-back with the first Fifty Shades sequel, meaning cast and crew have had to wait almost two years for their big climax. It's perhaps of no surprise then that Dakota seems as much relieved as she does excited to see the end of her Fifty Shades experience hit screens in time for Valentine's day. The actress was best known for being the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson when she beat hundreds of hopefuls to the role of Anastasia Steele.
Her performances - and, of course, those sex scenes! - have helped propel Dakota to star status in her own right and she's already using her Fifty Shades fame to further her career. This year will see her star in a horror movie (Suspiria) and a modern take on Mark Twain classic (The Peanut Butter Falcon). Next, the ambitious actress will be the singer in a rock band in the indie movie Sound of Metal. First, though Dakota is being Freed, with her Fifty Shades romp ending with Ana married to Jamie Dornan's Christian Grey. Just like her once timid character, Dakota feels she has grown through her Fifty Shades experience, and while those steamy scenes are still hard to shoot, she doesn't regret taking on such a revealing role on a bit. And with her rumored to be dating Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, it's safe to say the spotlight is set to remain on the talented Texan for the foreseeable future.
Here Dakota talks about being Freed at last, how she's glad to say goodbye to Ana, but how she already misses the Shades cast and crew to the point she hasn't ruled out another fling with Jamie sometime in the future.
How connected do you feel to Anastasia having played her over these three movies?
Dakota: Whenever I do any project, there is some inexplicable connection that I feel to the Character. With Ana, I think it is more the sense of initially having a very seemingly weak and vulnerable looking girl, to discovering a very powerful and strong woman.
How have you grown into the role?
Dakota: Is has been a very educational experience, professionally and personally. I think I have got to deal with certain things in a more grown-up way. I have a better outlook on certain parts.
How does it feel to end this trilogy portrayed as a strong female character?
Dakota: It means everything to me. It's the most important part of this film, I think. It truly wouldn't be what it is without Ana's sense of integrity, self-worth and her blatant honesty and boldness when it comes to expressing her real, valid feelings. Just to be able to feel free and talk about your feeling feely with a person is something that is beautiful. I think we are lucky to capture that.
How would you describe the relationship between Christian and Ana in Freed?
Dakota: I think it is just the most severe, boundless, relationship. There is something sort of fairytale-esque about it because they have fallen so freely and so hard for each other. Their feelings are relatable, they make sense and they are not completely outlandish. "Their feelings are relatable, they make sense and they are not completely outlandish. They just fiercely love each other and there is nothing that will ruin that or take away it from them. They won't let anything stop it.
What do you like about working with Jamie?
Dakota: He is such an honorable, wonderful and hilariously talented human. We have this sort of friendship that is built around trusting each other. It wasn't something like, 'Oh, I realize years later, I can trust you.' It's so special. We have a very unique friendship built fundamentally on trust and respect.
Did that make doing sex scenes together a little bit easier this time around?
Dakota: It was a lot more comfortable, yes. The first one we didn't know each other at all and there was so much pressure.
How important is it to lighten the mood when you are doing intimate scenes?
Dakota: We are constantly teasing each other. There is also so much respect and love and protection both ways. We just figured out the perfect formula to do these things.
What has working with Jamie taught you?
Dakota: A lot of what not to do - I'm just kidding! I think in working together I have learned truly how important it is - and how lucky it is - to have a relationship of trust and love and respect with the person you work with. It makes the work a lot easier.
What was the main difference between making Freed compared to the first movie?
Dakota: We had a longer period of time because we were doing the second and the third at the same time. It meant everyone bonded a bit more.
How was working with James Foley as director?
Dakota: James is a really nice person. He is nice to be around and he doesn't have this outrageous personality. The set had a very, very mellow vibe.
It must have been hard shooting both Fifty Shades Freed and Darker back-to-back.
Dakota: That was really tricky, yeah. It was like doing mental and emotional contortion. I had never done that before. I don't think most people have done that before. At least it was the same character because I can't imagine what it would be like if I were two different jobs going on between the two at the same time. Actors often do that, which is so commendable. I can't remember what scenes we exactly shot on the same day but it was a full hair and make-up changeover. Very confusing.
What was Vancouver like as a location?
Dakota: The weather was fairly nice the whole time we ere there; it can get quite rainy, but it was beautiful and fresh. It was nice to be in a place that is functioning and gorgeous on the weekends. You get to do nice things.
Did you prank each other on set at all during filming?
Dakota: Oh my gosh, yeah, but it was mostly just me to Jamie. He likes his tea a certain way so when he asked for tea I was like, "I'm going to go to craft, I'll make it for you." So I made his tea and I put some hot sauce in it, I put some chips in it, some carrots, whatever was on the table. It was pretty awful of me. I also filled his trailer with balloons on his birthday and I got him 300 chicken wings. And I got the first assistant director a penis cake! I filled his trailer with fake cockroaches. I am terrible; I am truly the worst. But it was all done with love.
Overall, what was the funniest part of doing these films?
Dakota: The funniest part was filming most of the sex scenes. The hardest part was also the sex scenes.
What do you think about the fans and their love for this franchise?
Dakota: It's insane. There was a level of expectation, just because of how well the books did, but just knowing that we worked really hard and that so many people enjoy the films, is just astonishing. It's the craziest feeling.
What or who are you a huge fan of?
Dakota: I don't know. I have never been a screaming fanatic about anything. Even when I went to a Spice Girls concert when I was nine years old. I was more of the silent freak-out kind of person. It doesn't burst out in sound out of my face.
Are you ready to say goodbye to this franchise?
Dakota: Yes! Yeah, I am. There is nothing sour about it but there is no more story to tell.
How has playing Ana changed you?
Dakota: It has changed my whole life completely, but I think the biggest part is that I travel around the world and I get to be surrounded by such talented and incredible filmmakers. That is the biggest thing for me.
What will you miss about playing her?
Dakota: I miss the crew. I fell so in love with everyone that worked on this project. That will be the thing that I will miss the most.
Finally, would you like to shoot another movie with Jamie again in the future?
Dakota: Yes. Maybe I could play his mom in an action movie - in a female-driven action-comedy!