Fifty Shades’s Dakota Johnson on Sex, Fame, and Building a Career on Her Own Terms

January 23, 2017 - Fifty Shades of Grey

Dakota Johnson
Dakota Johnson

Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier, Vogue, Feb 2017

“I got we balloons!” Dakota Johnson shouts above a hubbub of barking dogs, her hands cupped around her mouth in a figure of a heart.

As a iron gates of her mother’s Hollywood Hills residence climb open, a auburn-haired thespian is half-revealed on a mill stairs underneath a unenlightened mixed of helium-filled Mylar. She is wearing black Gucci boots and high-water selected boys’ Levi’s in a ideal normcore wash. “Is this an suitable outfit for assembly your landscape architect?” she asks, pulling on a flush mohair sweater by The Elder Statesman (its designer, Greg Chait, is a pal). “Do we demeanour like an adult who can convincingly use difference like night-blooming?”

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Of march she did not get me balloons. These are a detritus of a twenty-seventh-birthday celebration that her mother, Melanie Griffith, threw her a few nights before. The festivities culminated during Jumbo’s Clown Room, a frame bar in Thai Town where Johnson watched what she describes as a saddest stick dance in a story of stick dances. We are now snaking by a hills in a soccer-mom SUV that has to sufficient until a attainment of a forest-green 1995 Ford F150 that her grandfather has betrothed to send adult from his residence in Missouri. Our destination: a mid-century bungalow that Dakota, afterwards vital in downtown Manhattan, bought final winter in a transparent benefaction to a fact that she was, is, and unequivocally expected will always be a quadruped of Hollywood. It was customarily a second residence she saw, nonetheless she fell tough for a modernist pedigree; a engineer Carl Maston built it for his possess family in 1947.

“I used to spend hours and hours Googling mid-century houses,” she explains. “I get obsessed.” It is undergoing a renovation, and a thousand grown-up decisions contingency be faced. Has she staid on timber or poured petrify for a master bath? a executive asks. “High-class problems, y’all,” she says, jolt her head. Outside, a cobweb-covered urinal that belonged to a TV writer Ryan Murphy, a prior owner, leans on a wall underneath an outrageous jacaranda tree. “Get that thing out of here!” she declares, nonetheless her grin seems to ask, What if we were a kind of chairman who finished demands? The landscaper suggests replacing a weed between a flagstones with thyme. Dakota calls for a wall of white blooms to disguise her skinny-dipping habit.

“You wish a sidestep that’s not overly manicured,” a landscaper says. “Restrained nonetheless wild.”

“Like me,” she replies.

Dakota Johnson Finds Her Inner Supermodel:

And so it continues. He suggests a citrus grove. She suggests a cannabis farm. Before we go, Johnson points adult toward a guest room with a wall of south-facing windows. “Let’s do Roman shades in there,” she says, “because we consider it’s kind of pervy to customarily be means to see people’s legs.”

There is always, with Johnson, an atmosphere of disobedience mingled with an atmosphere of astounded pleasure during her possess naughtiness. Is it a open accommodation, roughly reflexive during this point, to a 3 years of disagreeable courtesy that have accompanied her star spin conflicting Jamie Dornan in a film instrumentation of Fifty Shades of Grey, as good as a dual sequels, Fifty Shades Darker—out this month—and a approaching Fifty Shades Freed? Or is that amused titillation—the ambience for a sex joke, and unequivocally any joke—among a qualities that warranted her a purpose of Anastasia Steele in a initial place? It has now been accurately dual years given Fifty Shades altered Johnson’s life, and nonetheless her bloodline is true-blue Hollywood—her father is Don Johnson, her stepfather is Antonio Banderas, her grandmother is Tippi Hedren—there is no gene for cakewalking alongside a $500 million cinematic juggernaut. She has listened it conspicuous that she despises Fifty Shades. Not so. “I’m truly unapproachable of it,” she says. “It’s a cold story, and we consider it’s different, and opposite is what I’m about.” She has review that Dornan and she can’t mount any other. She has review that they are carrying an affair. “We hatred any other and we’re carrying an affair, so everybody’s right. How about that?”

We are now sitting during lunch during a grill in West Hollywood, in a room where a majority of a women competition lacquered lips and conspicuous curves. Amid such overtness, Johnson’s cool-girl looks don’t register. And nonetheless unequivocally expected many people here have seen her naked. A lot. “Nudity is unequivocally engaging for an actor,” she says. “Jamie and we worked so impossibly closely for so long. There were no inhibitions, and it was unequivocally honest, unequivocally trusting. But we mean, what a gamble! What if he had incited out to be a sum dick? There’s no makeup. There are no garments to tell we a bit about a story. There’s no valuables to give we a suspicion about amicable status. So it becomes quite about a performance.” She sips her coffee and softens her voice, lest her cover get blown. “Will we stop doing bare scenes when my bust start sagging? we don’t know. Maybe we have some-more of a European mind-set about these things. we don’t wish to see someone wearing a bra and underwear in a sex scene. Let’s be honest about it. People are exposed when they fuck.”

Despite all a on-screen exposure, in vivo Johnson has struggled with a suspicion of a open life. She is, perhaps, too cloyed to suffer a frisson of new fame, and too informed with it from family life. “I’m terrible in crowds,” she says. “I was recently during a Gucci uncover in Milan given Alessandro [Michele, a brand’s designer] is a good friend, so we felt like we could only go, see what he was operative on, and be like, I’m unapproachable of you; call me later. But routinely I’m sitting there thinking, we don’t go here, we don’t know all these people, we don’t know what I’m articulate about. we have a thing with a exposure, with a knowledge of a past dual years. we consider we went into this uncanny K-hole of feeling so frightened of people. we beheld myself apropos tighten off to strangers, even cold. That’s not my nature. we cite to be tender.”

Tender is indeed Johnson’s favorite word, and final tumble her crony Dr. Woo, Los Angeles’s stream standing tattoo artist, etched it in fine, looping letters onto her forearm. Another tattoo by Woo in white ink reads lightly, my darling, difference plucked from a book by Aldous Huxley. (Not to be outshone, her mom recently had Woo tattoo a word hush onto her knuckles.) Famous people tend to flounder during a awaiting of deliberating their fame, nonetheless Johnson feels strongly that a concomitant predicament of adore contingency be overcome.

“No one wants to contend that they wish to be famous, nobody wants to sound like they like being famous, nobody wants to sound ungrateful, nobody wants to sound like they’re in denial,” she says. “It’s a frightful word. What is a verbatim clarification anyway?” She opens her phone and starts Googling. “‘Fame. From a Latin for rumor. The condition of being recognized.’ The condition! But afterwards I’m like, am we even a famous person? Because we suppose that those are people who other people are constantly staring at, that isn’t me. Who gets photographed any day? Brad and Angelina? But they don’t, given I’m sincerely certain that they’ve built subterraneous tunnels everywhere, and that’s how they get around.”

Johnson, innate in Texas and lifted nowhere in particular, was primed for an radical life. Her relatives were on plcae for prolonged stretches of her childhood, and Dakota tagged along, nannies and tutors in tow. She can't count a series of schools she attended, a few months here or there, or a series of childhood friendships that slipped away. She started therapy during age three. “The whole shebang,” she explains. “All a assistance we can get.” She had to contend with her parents’ divorce and their well-publicized struggles with drugs and alcohol. “I was so consistently unmoored and discombobulated. we didn’t have an anchor anywhere.” School was a challenge, and she hated to study. “I never schooled how to learn a approach you’re ostensible to as a kid,” she says. “I thought, Why do we have to go to propagandize on time? What’s a indicate when you’re vital in Budapest for 6 months while your stepdad films Evita and we go to propagandize in your hotel room? we was a disaster, and we suspicion for so prolonged that there was something wrong with my brain. Now we comprehend that it only works in a opposite way.”

Film was always a best approach to rivet Johnson, and she transient to a period of celluloid obsessions, films she would watch over and over: Mary Poppins, Home Alone, Beetlejuice, and after all of Bernardo Bertolucci and John Cassavetes. She complicated ballet until age sixteen nonetheless always illusory a career in acting. “I thought, This is only what my family does,” she says. “It’s like, my dad’s a lawyer, so I’m a lawyer. Except that it doesn’t customarily work that way.”

Tippi Hedren allows for a probability that it’s a genes. “I didn’t pull Melanie into films, and she didn’t pull Dakota. we consider conjunction of us is a form to push,” Hedren tells me over a phone one afternoon, as a tigress named Mona stares during her by a window of her home on a Shambala Preserve, a California animal refuge she founded. “Dakota and we never discussed a disastrous aspects of a business. I’m not good during recommendation anyway. But we have told her that we consider it’s critical to do opposite things in life, to have a clarity of balance. Marnie, my second film with Hitchcock, dealt with a theme that films didn’t plead behind then: a effects of childhood trauma. Fifty Shades of Grey is identical in that it’s addressing something in a mainstream film for a initial time. Although we haven’t indeed seen it. Isn’t that a strangest thing? we couldn’t tell we why.”

Johnson finished some income displaying while in high propagandize in Santa Monica, a initial time she was in one place for a few uninterrupted years, and when she graduated she changed herself and her afterwards beloved to an unit in West Hollywood. She had practical to a singular college, Juilliard, in New York, for that she wastefully achieved monologues by Shakespeare and Steve Martin. “Juilliard and we jointly concluded that it wouldn’t work out,” she recalls. Back in Los Angeles, she began auditioning, and a mangle came when she requisitioned what incited out to be a noted cameo as Sean Parker’s Stanford one-night mount in The Social Network.

In a open of 2016, in a prolonged arise of a initial Fifty Shades installment, Johnson seemed in Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, a stylish reconstitute of a 1969 film La Piscine, in a purpose originated by Jane Birkin. To watch Johnson solemnly flay an Adriatic fig as she stares during a group who glance during her is a rather discomfiting experience. The accrual and deployment of youth passionate power, in this box grossly misused, have been Johnson’s on-screen dominion. “I’ve been in a proviso of my life where I’m preoccupied by immature women entrance to terms with their sexuality,” she explains. “I guess, by proxy, we have been experiencing that in my possess life, and it’s unequivocally engaging to me.”

Guadagnino possesses an auteur’s faithfulness to his players, and it was during a filming of A Bigger Splash that he asked Johnson if she would take on a heading purpose in a reconstitute of Suspiria, Dario Argento’s cult fear movie from 1977. The film tells a story of an American ballet tyro who enrolls in a German dance academy that turns out to be tranquil by a coven of witches. Tilda Swinton, a star of A Bigger Splash, plays a academy director. “Dakota and we have a rolling giddiness between us,” she explains, “a kind of childish nonsense that was innate a impulse we met and means that we are always on a verge of not being means to get critical work done. Having to accommodate any other’s eye during a take is generally a flattering poignant plea for us.”

Suspiria, for that Johnson spent 6 months retraining herself in ballet, represents a initial time she has been concerned in a plan given a inception. “It feels like we’re not creation this for anyone nonetheless ourselves,” she says, “which is how we would like to feel all a time when we make films. we know that’s not going to happen, nonetheless a thing about Fifty Shades is that even if it’s blurb and mainstream, a theme matter isn’t. In that approach we can do something mass nonetheless stay loyal to my uncanny interests.” One competence credit Johnson, who was final seen in a 2016 regretful comedy How to Be Single, of a cleverness to spin herself concurrently into an art-house tie and a mainstream star. That change is intensely appealing to her. “The stories we wish to tell, a characters we wish to play, don’t typically exist in huge, blurb box-office movies,” she says. “But this is a business.”

Johnson and we accommodate again a few weeks later, during a famous Glass House that Philip Johnson built in a Connecticut woods. Is it too predicted that she is struck in sold by a bed that Johnson common with David Whitney, his partner of 45 years? “It’s a notation bed,” she says. “I adore it. we mean, if we always wish to cuddle a chairman you’re with, afterwards you’re in a flattering good spot.” Johnson finished a attribute with Matthew Hitt, a indication and a lead thespian of a rope a Drowners, final spring. “Shit happens,” she says. “I consider I’m a small bit sad all a time, even when I’m in a happy relationship. we don’t do infrequent unequivocally well, and my feelings, even a good ones, get so heated that they hurt.” For a present, Johnson is on her own. Enough said. “Can we make things unequivocally juicy? Can we contend that I’m holding this time to try my bisexuality? Or that we have given myself to a Lord following a recover of my intimately pithy trifecta of films?”

Fifty Shades Darker is a bit some-more of a thriller than a predecessor, and a sex, now that Ana has authorised Christian behind into her life on her possess terms, is some-more impassioned, reduction clinical. “This lady is a badass,” Johnson says. “ She’s hyperintelligent and hypersexual and unequivocally tough and unequivocally loving, and her impression has so many opposite aspects that don’t routinely make clarity in one person. we attempted to amplify them all.” In a routine of unpuzzling Ana’s formidable passionate life, Johnson has grown a low indebtedness for BDSM, that she feels is still exposed to stupidity and scorn. “First of all, there are some unequivocally stylish avenues in BDSM,” she says. “It can be unequivocally pleasing and tasteful, and a materials can be luxurious. It’s not like being on Hollywood Boulevard and walking by a ball-gag store. But what we admire is a aplomb and a probity of people who get down with it, who aren’t fearful to contend that they need something a bit some-more in sequence to get off. America is still so intimately oppressed. Isn’t God’s present to humans a orgasm? Here’s a fun fact: A lady has a same series of haughtiness endings in her clitoris as a male does in his whole penis.”

Johnson spent many of a initial half of 2016 in Vancouver sharpened a dual stirring installments, both destined by James Foley. He recalls her entrance to set with a crumpled printout of The New York Times, that she would review during makeup. “She would speak about a things function in Crimea and then, a notation we conspicuous ‘Action,’ do things with her impression that we was never expecting, nonetheless with sum management and authenticity,” he explains. “She has a unequivocally supportive jive meter, so if she does something that is a slightest bit imaginary she only stops herself. She is only bizarrely instinctual about it all. She already knows adequate to approach something. Easily.”

As it happens, Johnson would like to get behind a camera, and nonetheless she has her possess prolongation association as good as a essay partner, newly she is too bustling to get anything off a ground. “I have a engorgement of half-filled journals,” she says. Suspiria finishes sharpened this winter, and afterwards she moves on to The Sound of Metal, a adore story created and destined by Darius Marder and costarring Matthias Schoenaerts. Johnson recruited her crony St. Vincent (ex-girlfriend of her crony Cara Delevingne) to emanate song for a film.

“I finally feel that I’m in a right place during a right time in my life, collaborating with artists who rouse me,” she says. “A few years ago, we was fighting, watchful for someone to give me a chance. I’m a flattering supportive person, and when we don’t feel protected, we tend to tighten right up. But when we feel safe, we consider we can do anything.”

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