Dakota Johnson is best known for her part as Anastasia Steele, the protagonist of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” film series — but she almost said “no” to the role.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Johnson, 32, reveals that fellow actress Emily Blunt was the one who pushed her to do the first movie when she was having doubts, sharing advice that would change her career forever.
“I couldn’t talk about it to anybody. Nobody in my family knew,” Johnson told The Hollywood Reporter of landing the part. “I was cast [and] I remember I spoke to Emily Blunt, and I was like, ‘Should I do this trilogy? Because I want to have a really special career, and I want to make a certain kind of film … and I know that this is going to change things.’”
Blunt encouraged the young actress to follow her gut. “She was like, ‘F—ing do it if it feels right. Just do it. Always do what you want to do.’”
The films have made more than $1 billion at the box office, inspiring a cult-like fan following and making Johnson a household name. She has gone on to star in other films alongside top talent like “How To Be Single”, “Peanut Butter Falcon” and “The High Note.” “I feel like I haven’t been pigeonholed into anything [because of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” role],” she said. “I guess I could have gone in a certain direction, but that’s just not what I was interested in.”
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Johnson also stressed the importance of collaboration and finding mentors you can trust in building a successful career. When she was 18, she signed with manager Jason Weinberg, and soon after added WME agent Andrew Dunlap to her team.
“I want to grow with people. I am not interested in stepping on people’s shoulders to get somewhere,” she said. “I care so much about trusting people and being trusted because this industry, it thrives on collaboration. You can’t do it by yourself.”
Acting is a family business for Johnson: her parents are actors Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, her stepfather is Antonio Banderas, and her grandmother is Tippi Hedren. During a virtual appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” in March, Don revealed that he cut Dakota off financially when she decided to pursue an acting career instead of attending college.
“We have a rule in the family that, you know, if you stay in school, you get to stay on the payroll … so, you go to college, you get to stay on the payroll,” the actor explained to Meyers. “Toward the end of high school, I went to her and I said, ‘So, do you want to go visit some colleges?’ … And she was like, ‘Oh, no. I’m not going to college, no way.’ I went, ‘OK, you know what that means? You won’t be on the payroll anymore.’
When Don asked Dakota how she was going to support herself, ’She said, ‘Don’t you worry about it,’” he shared. Three weeks later, she landed a role in “The Social Network” alongside Justin Timberlake. Despite having a famous father, Don said Dakota rarely calls him for advice. “She calls me to say, ‘Gosh, I would see you, but I’ve got three pictures I’m shooting at the same time,’” he said.
In November 2020, Johnson added another title to her resume when she joined sexual wellness brand Maude as an investor and co-creative director. Entrepreneur Éva Goicochea founded Maude in April 2018 after working in health-care legislation and brand strategy. Maude, which sells candles, bubble bath, body massagers and other tools, has raised $10.1 million dollars in funding since its launch, according to Crunchbase.