‘Our Friend’ stars Dakota Johnson, Casey Affleck talk pressure of playing real people

The actors take on a true story about cancer, family, and friendship

Casey Affleck and Dakota Johnson were a little nervous to take on playing real people in their emotional new film “Our Friend.”

The Oscar-winner, 45, plays journalist Matt Teague whose wife, Nicole (played by Johnson), was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012.

The tear-jerker is based on the poignant essay Teague wrote for Esquire titled “The Friend” about the couple’s longtime friend, Dane, who moves in with the family to help take care of the couple’s young daughters.  

Affleck told Fox News, “I’ve never played anyone who didn’t want the movie to be made about them.”

He continued, “In this case, I play a guy who wrote the article the movie is based on and he really was excited about the movie but they had two kids and the kids are also portrayed in the movie. Those girls are now teenagers and I was a little bit nervous about making sure they were ok with it all… I talked to their dad and talked to them and it seemed okay.”

Johnson said telling the story was more about honoring the family than perfectly imitating someone but she did feel “a looming pressure.”

The 31-year-old told Fox News she wanted her “performance, the experience, and the relationships [to] be authentic as [possible] as opposed to being exactly [like] Nicole.”

Johnson added how she just wanted the Teague family to feel “honored and like they were being respected and their truth was being told the right way.”

Jason Segel, who plays Dane, admitted the bond between the actors came naturally.

“Dakota and I have known each out for about ten years,” he told Fox News. “Casey and I got to know each other on camera while filming the movie, which is part of the story of the movie.”

Johnson echoed his sentiment and revealed on the set she felt “supported” as she played someone who was dying.

Segel contributed his chemistry with Johnson and Affleck on-screen to director Gabriela Cowperthwaite. He explained, “She comes from documentaries and I think that her style is to try and capture real moments on screen.”

Affleck agreed, “The director always kind of sets the tone and [Cowperthwaite] set a tone that was, ‘Hey, look, we’re all supposed to be [friends] let’s try to have a really nice time. And so that’s how the movie felt.”

“Our Friend” hits theaters and PVOD on Friday, Jan. 22.

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