Dakota Johnson Talks ‘Persuasion,’ Family, Sexual Agency, and the ‘Psychotic’ Making of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
“No. Probably not,” she says. “But what’s wrong with them? It’s a specific sex dynamic that’s really real for a lot of people.
The fifty shades The trilogy took Johnson down an unexpected path as an entrepreneur with sexual wellness brand Maude. Later, she brings me to a dinner for the company, where she speaks in front of investors, Sephora executives, private equity suits, a dozen beauty editors, and Katie Couric, among others. Maude’s founder, Eva Goicochea, stands beside her crying. News of the Supreme Court’s intention to strike down Roe vs. Wade feels insurmountable and inextricably tied to a brand dedicated to sex education and women’s agency.
“To have this dinner this week is really lucky,” Johnson told the room. “We need to have a lot of conversations about sex ed and really amplify that across the country.”
She sits down and looks at me. “How did I do it? I’m so nervous about speaking in public. Hands clasped under her chin, she inspects the room, and tells me that while researching fifty shades, she learned that a lot of BDSM clients are high-powered CEOs. She looks at one bald gentleman in particular. “They want to be told what to do after a long day at the office. They need liberation.
Johnson now brings the good, the bad and the ugly she’s experienced on film sets to bring to TeaTime Pictures, which she co-founded with Ro Donnelly. Her grandmother, for her part, has no doubts about her navigating the industry. “Dakota has a lot of stamina and confidence in herself,” Hedren says via email. “It’s not an easy business. You have to have the will to succeed, and she has it in spades.
TeaTime’s mission is to help young and surprising voices negotiate a daunting city, starting with Cooper Raiff, 25, screenwriter, director and star of Cha Cha really smooth. Raiff’s film is a fun and hopeful coming-of-age story of a recent college graduate (played by Raiff) who moonlights as a bar mitzvah party starter to earn money. money while crashing on mom’s couch. The film delves into the irony of a rudderless young man trying to help boys become men and explores the idea of kindred spirits through Raiff’s character’s propensity to fall in love with older, out-of-town women. of scope.
Raiff sold Johnson and Donnelly on a pitch and wrote the role of Domino — a single mother who chooses between living her 30s to the fullest and raising her seventh-grade autistic daughter — specifically for Johnson. “She really understood the story I wanted to tell, which is probably a bit of a naïve story,” Raiff says. “She loved it for what it was, and she could bring the adult maturity to the script.” The film is one of Johnson’s first as a producer, and Raiff adds that she was indispensable. “She’s very savvy about relationships and who you should be nice to, and when you should say no to people.” Both Johnson and Raiff deferred their fees because financiers couldn’t afford the costs of making a movie during COVID.
At the SXSW festival in Austin, she saw Cha Cha real smooth with an audience for the first time and cried. Afterwards, members of the autistic public lined up to speak to Johnson, Raiff and the film’s star, autistic actress Vanessa Burghardt. “It was a very unsettling and beautiful moment,” Johnson says. “I then had to go and drink three martinis.”
Johnson checks his watch. Tomorrow, she must go to Toronto, where she produces a television program. After that, she’ll report to New York, where she’ll appear at the Global Citizen NOW summit and speak about reproductive rights on CNN. In July, she will be at an undisclosed location filming her first action movie, Marvel’s Mrs Web, why she’s building muscle so she can do as many stunts as the insurance policy will allow: “I feel like I can probably do some Tom Cruise stuff,” she enthuses.
Right now it’s time for us to go to an event on Park Avenue. She goes upstairs to change and, as we exit the hotel, Johnson is immediately flanked by a security guard, who warns us of the paparazzi outside. She continues to walk straight.
What should I do? I ask.
She smiled confidently. Then she says, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “Get in the car.”
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