8. She's starring in a film with Dakota Johnson & Rebel Wilson
GLAMOUR: We're really excited about How to Be Single. Did you have fun working on set with Rebel Wilson and Dakota Johnson? And do you have any funny memories from the set?
Alison: I had so much fun! Dakota and I actually worked together on The Five Year Engagement years ago, which she'd told me was the first comedy she'd ever done and it was the same for me. It was really fun to reconnect with her and Rebel is so funny and sweet - I really had a blast working on that movie and I think it came out great! There was definitely a notable New York moment! We were shooting out late-night in bars and one night we were told not to go back to our trailers just yet because people were fornicating against the building in front of our trailer. We had to let them finish.
"What’s up?” says Dakota Johnson, casually sauntering towards Total Film in a black- and-white diagonal- striped dress and mules. It’s a particularly drowsy day during the Venice Film Festival and the 26-year-old starlet, her light brown hair scraped into a ponytail, is looking suitably laid-back when she arrives at a waterside restaurant to discuss her latest film, A Bigger Splash, a sun-drenched island tale co-starring Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenaerts. While she recently popped up opposite Johnny Depp’s gangster in Black Mass, the past year has been something of a blur for Johnson, since playing Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Of Grey – the naïve literary student heroine of E.L. James’ bonk-buster phenomenon.
The Sam Taylor-Johnson-directed film went on to gross a whopping $570 million worldwide, but Johnson can barely remember what she did in those post-Grey months. “I blocked everything out,” she says. As it happens, she was shooting How To Be Single in New York, an ensemble rom-com in which Johnson plays Alice, a freshly-solo girl who gets taught the ways of the dating scene by Rebel Wilson’s loud-mouth friend. With Wilson lambasting her in the trailer for her, ahem, lady gardening (“It’s like Gandalf is staring right at me”), “it is a pretty hysterical, unconventional friendship,” explains Johnson. “They both learn a bit from each other.”
Playing the sensitive wallflower may not be a push for Johnson after Fifty Shades but, as A Bigger Splash shows, she’s more than capable of the other extreme. A remake-of-sorts of Jacques Deray’s 1969 film La Piscine, with Alain Delon, the film sees Johnson play Penelope, the alluring daughter to Fiennes’ verbose record producer Harry, who arrives on the remote Italian island of Pantelleria to shatter the tranquillity of Harry’s ex-flame, Swinton’s former glam-rocker Marianne, as she hides out with Schoenaerts’ doc-maker boyfriend. What follows is a languid study of sexual intrigue, past and present. “My heart was attached to Penelope right away,” explains Johnson, who read the script a year before she was hired, only to see the project collapse more than once due to financing issues. When it finally came together, in 2014, Johnson had taken the summer off – and was travelling on a tour bus with some musician pals in France (she’s besties with decorator Emily Ward, who is married to the Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney).
Johnson, who has been on-off dating vocalist Matthew Hitt from indie band Drowners, then got the call to meet A Bigger Splash’s director Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love). “It was a whirlwind and I was not ready at all to work,” she admits. “Normally, I’m like: ‘Let’s do it, I’m ready to go,’ and I feel like I have ample time to prepare myself mentally. But I was in an emotional place in my life, and my private life, and I wasn’t ready to do this. So it was very sudden.” Flying to Crema, where Guadagnino lives, Johnson then found herself battling the fear.
"I freaked out and I didn’t think I could do it, and I didn’t want to... I felt like I didn’t have enough time to develop a character as wonderful as this. I didn’t want to damage it and I didn’t want to fuck it up. I thought I was going to be wasting everyone’s time. And then Ralph and Tilda talked me off a ledge. I was terrified, though. I didn’t want to ruin it.”
Despite acting for five years, initially as Justin Timberlake’s conquest in David Fincher’s Facebook drama The Social Network, Johnson is still at that stage where feedback from others “whose opinion I value” is crucial. “Reading into things very specifically... I haven’t got to a place in my career where I feel comfortable enough to do that yet,” she says. “I’m sure that I will. I admire someone like Tilda, who is able to really read everything and dissect her work. I’m a little more fragile!”
That said, she’s been around the business her whole life. Her father is ex-Miami Vice star Don Johnson; her mother is actress Melanie Griffith; her stepfather is Spanish legend Antonio Banderas and her maternal grandmother is Hitchcock muse Tippi Hedren. So what’s the best advice they ever gave her? “That’s a very big question,” she sighs. “A lot of things, every day. My grandmother said to me, ‘Say exactly what you want to say and nothing more.’ So that’s what I do.”
Born in Austin, Texas, Johnson’s childhood was peripatetic thanks to her parents’ work; Cincinnati, Colorado, Budapest, she went wherever their films took them. In and out of high schools, her education came from other sources; her dad taught her to ride a horse, drive a car and even shoot a gun before she was 10. Her only movie role came playing her mother’s daughter – alongside half-sister Stella – in the Banderas-directed 1999 film Crazy In Alabama. “I took it very seriously!” she laughs. Her parents weren’t so keen on her acting, preferring her to study textbooks over scripts. “It can be a frightening business and it can be brutal and tough,” she says. “Any parent would want them to protect their child from that.” After graduating high school, Johnson started modelling – winning a campaign for Mango and becoming the first second-generation Miss Golden Globe (her mother had won the accolade in 1975). Acting, inevitably, was the next step.
Roles in The Five-Year Engagement, 21 Jump Street and Need For Speed established her – small fry, though, compared to Fifty Shades. Even now, the hysteria surrounding her and co-star Jamie Dornan, taking on the roles of Anastasia and the S&M-loving Christian Grey, is baffling to her. “That is something I don’t know if I’ll ever get my head around,” she says. “It’s astonishing and incredible. I have incredible fans and I owe all of my jobs to them.” Her anonymity eroded in an instant, and it didn’t help that she’d witnessed similar activity with her family. “It’s different when it’s you,” she argues. “I always watched my parents go through things like this and it’s a different feeling. [When somebody approaches me] I often feel very awkward and I think that maybe I went to high school with them... I always take it and make it my fault... yeah, I don’t know.” She stammers, momentarily. “I don’t know if anybody ever gets used to it.”
What about the critics, though? For an actress as “fragile” as Johnson, surely the savaging the film took from reviewers must’ve hurt? “Well, anyone who has their work criticised, it can sting a little. But for that specific film, we all knew that was coming. It wasn’t surprising. It’s a very peculiar movie. It was sort of expected.” She pauses, defiance in her eyes. “There were a lot of people who did like the movie... that made me feel happy and proud.” Already signed on for sequels Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, due to be shot back-to-back in 2016, she’ll have to do it without Sam Taylor-Johnson, who quit the franchise to be replaced by veteran director James Foley (Glengarry Glenn Ross). So how does she feel about the switch? “That’s the way things go,” she says, diplomatically. “I’m excited to work with James and I’m excited to have a different experience.” She beams. “That’s the joy of my job.”
Dakota Johnson arrived in Tokyo for attending Michael Kors Ginza shop opening event. Dakota’s recent activity is remarkable and is in great demand by TV talk show,etc in the US. She performed Anastasia in Fifty Shades of Grey brilliantly and that was a breakthrough. She is now playing James Bulger (played by Johnny Depp)’s partner and their son’s mum Lindsey in “Black Scandal (Black Mass) which will be released in winter.
Dakota: "When I got an offer (Black Mass), the director asked me to play Lindsey just like me. Lindsey is a very sensitive lady but I wanted to show something different. Working with Johnny Depp is one of the greatest experiences I've ever had-We got on really well from the start so that I could concentrate on acting. Johnny is so talented and a loving person. I was inspired by him so much."
Have you ever made an any effort for acting?
Dakota: "Not really. If I understand what the director demands for the movie, then I can play the role heartily."
Dakota loves a vintage fashion . "I love black denim and boots. In winter, a good quality winter jacket and a check scarf are indispensable!"
About her trip to Japan – She came to Tokyo for Michael Kors Ginza shop opening event. However, Dakota decided to stay in Japan a day longer and she is really looking forward to do sightseeing.
"I want to go shopping as soon as I can!! I want to visit a Vintage shop, and I want to buy Pink/Blue wigs! It's so much fun!"
Dakota Johnson is a lovely lady who has a huge ambition. She says "I want to perform a lot of different characters in the future!" Dakota has an infinite possibility and the bright future is waiting for her.