On the eve of becoming notorious with the release of Fifty Shades of Grey, Dakota Johnson, its under-the-radar star, relishes her last moments of anonymity.
My most favorite thing about London,” confides Dakota Johnson on the first day of our madcap foray into the capital’s Fashion Week, “is that nobody recognizes me. It’s really . . . cool.”
Although the director was determined to give Dakota the role, she had her come back to read with a few contenders for the role of Christian Grey—the charismatic love interest with the unconventional sexual appetites.
“We couldn’t offer her the part until we felt there was a definite chemistry between her and whoever was going to play the part of Christian,” says Taylor-Johnson. Enter the improbably good-looking Northern Irishman Jamie Dornan, charismatic star of the hair-raising BBC crime series The Fall, with a proverbial twinkle in his eye. Their chemistry, as the director recalls, was immediate.
“I think about my dwindling anonymity,” she says, “and that’s really scary because a very large part of me would be perfectly happy living on a ranch in Colorado and having babies and chickens and horses—which I will do anyway.” Still, she could not pass up the opportunity to play a character that so many people felt they knew. “I wanted to be involved because it’s so different,” says Dakota, “and it’s an intense love story.”
“Dakota is very funny—and humor on a film set goes a long way,” says Dornan. “But she also had the ability to be a very strong dramatic actress. She’d be telling a joke one minute and breaking your heart on-screen the next—so she was perfect.”
“There are tough scenes in this movie,” adds Taylor-Johnson, “scenes where she had to be naked—and not just in the flesh. But she was utterly fearless and brave.” Dakota, meanwhile, says that she and Taylor-Johnson “have a very special connection. I trust her with everything. She has a very level head, and there was never really an anxious moment.”
‘It’s just insane,’ Johnson says of Fifty Shades. ‘I’ve never experienced anything like it—I don’t think anyone has’