Dakota Johnson: ‘I feel the most insane anxiety about our world and our planet’

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Remember when I used to not like Dakota Johnson that much? It was a real thing I felt – I thought she was a bit melodramatic and vacant. But after a few good interviews and several great performances, I really became a fan. Dakota is actually the only good part in those Fifty Shades movies, fight me. Anyway, Dakota is currently promoting The High Note, which was released On Demand May 29th. This is one of the few June cover stories where the interview happened in person, likely just days before the widespread lockdown orders in mid-March. Dakota chatted about fear, anxiety and the hope that more movies will have happy endings. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Anxiety: “I feel the most insane anxiety about our world and our planet. I’m constantly thinking about the state of the world right now. It keeps me up at night, all night, every night. My brain goes to crazy dark places with it. My brain moves at a million miles per minute. I have to do a lot of work to purge thoughts and emotions, and I am in a lot of therapy.”

Depression: “I’ve struggled with depression since I was young—since I was 15 or 14. That was when, with the help of professionals, I was like, Oh, this is a thing I can fall into. But I’ve learned to find it beautiful because I feel the world. I guess I have a lot of complexities, but they don’t pour out of me. I don’t make it anyone else’s problem.”

She started a production company, TeaTime: “For a long time, I’d do a movie and have no say. I could go into something, and it’ll be one thing, and then it comes out as a totally different thing. As an artist, you’re like, ‘What the f–k?’” (Johnson has denied reports that she was displeased with the Fifty Shades films.) “I definitely want to have my craft, my artistry, and my ideas respected and tossed around. I want to be part of the process. I also have really specific taste. When I work, I’m constantly thinking about the job. It takes up so much of my brain. Not all of my projects are only good messages, but all of them have a little bit of something that makes me feel like it’s an okay thing to pour my heart into.”

Rewatching Notting Hill & thinking about happy endings:
“There are not movies made like that anymore. Movies where they take their time and the pacing is more languid and it’s about light-hearted escapism and wishful thinking. When I was growing up, I loved those movies so much. They were the reason why I was like, Well, maybe I could be an actress. Maybe I could be a movie star. There’s something really nice about making something that makes people just feel good and get out of their lives for a second and maybe think, Oh, my dreams could be not dreams, they could be …”

[From Marie Claire]

I am a fan of Richard Curtis’s work (he wrote Notting Hill, Four Weddings, Love Actually, etc), but I actually think that Notting Hill is probably one of his weakest scripts? I didn’t begrudge the “happy ending,” but I honestly find the pacing so “off” in that movie. When you really think about it, it takes place over the course of about a year and a half, and Hugh Grant’s character is just some mopey dude who can’t get over the American woman with whom he only went on one date. As for her talk about feeling anxiety and depression during this moment of crisis… I mean, we all are. We’re all feeling the stress in different ways. But she’s talked about her particular sensitivities before, and some people have even suggested that she’s something of an empath.

Cover & IG courtesy of Marie Claire.

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25 Responses to “Dakota Johnson: ‘I feel the most insane anxiety about our world and our planet’”

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  1. Franklymydear... says:

    Oh, I love Notting Hill!! And now I need to rewatch it. I also have grown to like her, despite the 50 Shades of Ick. I saw her in the final episode of The Office and didn’t recognize her at first. She was funny.

  2. Busyann says:

    Ive liked her since 50 shades. She really worked the material she was given. Has anyone seen High Note yet? I can rent it on demand but $20 is steep for a bad movie lol.

    • Chica1971 says:

      @busyann I saw it on Prime for $5 . Haven’t watched it but Twitter reviews said it was actually a good. $20 is a lot a home but it’s ticket + bottled water at my neighborhood movie.

    • EM says:

      Rented it yesterday (to stop watching the riot coverage) and thought it was really good! Great acting all around, nice script and a happy ending :-) Highly recommend if only for the escapism factor.

      I like Dakota – never bother with the 50 Shades movies but saw her on Letterman way back when and thought she was charming.

  3. Snappyfish says:

    I’m right there with her. I have never been an anxious person but I have become one. Prior to COVID19. All the random shootings & racist hate that has been Emboldened since the Orange monster took residence in the Oval.

  4. AmyB says:

    I know others may not agree, but I really do like her and find her very pretty. In a more simplistic way, but I think she is quite lovely – and yes, she is essentially the only good thing about those 50 Shades movies. I have seen interviews with her, and she is also quite funny. Seems down to earth as well, especially considering she comes from an old school Hollywood family.

  5. Carrie says:

    I really liked her for not backing down to Ellen.

    • Jules says:

      That interview changed it for me! I used to find her annoying, but I appreciate her no BS attitude after that.

  6. Other Renee says:

    I agree with her. I’ve had a low to mid-level anxiety since Orange One became president and white supremacists began showing their ugly faces and displaying their lack of a soul. This has grown considerably since the shutdowns. It’s manifested itself in raging asthma and allergies. Nonstop since around February. Before that I went two years without touching my inhaler. I literally feel like I can’t breathe sometimes. I’m terrified of catching Covid (been tested, negative) because I’d be a statistic of people with pre-existing conditions. I rarely leave the house. Once a day to walk and once a week to shop. I’m terrified for the planet and for my kids’ futures.

  7. Hannah says:

    I dont mind her. She’s one of the least problematic of the nepotistic actors.
    Also I think I know what she means with romantic comedies.
    She has a neurotic but light quality to her acting that I think would work really well in romantic comedies. That complexity yet lightness was what made Diane Keaton so great at comedies.

  8. local russian hill says:

    love her and she was amazing in ‘a bigger splash’. italian film. it’s a much watch.

  9. No Doubt says:

    I’m with her on the anxiety. With the GOP, the pandemic and now protests… it’s been a dumpster fire of a year. I really hope all this anger shows in November when it’s time to vote.

  10. smcollins says:

    I’m still bitter about Ben & Kate being cancelled after only one season. She was so charmingly funny in it. I know she’s usually referred to as “vanilla” but I think she seems like she would be fun to hang out with, given her Hollywood lineage I can only imagine the stories she could tell.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Oh, I saw that show! I thought it was cute, although I thought the brother character was a bit sad.

  11. Purplehazeforever says:

    Why is she with Chris Martin then? Am I missing something?

  12. Annalise says:

    I too was not exactly a fan of Dakota Johnson when she first came on the scene. I assumed she was just another celebrity’s kid who landed a role (a jillion dumb shades of grey or whatever) based on who her parents are. But I too have become a big fan, and not just of her acting but also of the manner in which she conducts herself. She’s not a fame whore, she seems very authentic and intelligent. She has a kind of shimmering, SLIGHTLY demure quality but at the same time seems to possess a quiet confidence and strength. The fact that she is a terrific actress certainly does not hurt her appeal. Like I said, I have become a big fan. Now, all that being said; WHAT is up with that AWFUL magazine cover???? She looks terrible!!! Who OK-ed that?????

  13. Carmelita says:

    I have a soft spot for her. I can’t explain it. She seems sweet.

    • Sandals says:

      I feel exactly the same way. She seems really sweet but with an underlying strength at the same time. And she was great in A Bigger Splash (overrated film but…)

      • WilliamJoelene says:

        Melanie Griffith had that same sweet quality in spades, back in the day. Dakota was so gracious on Ellen. Yet powerful! I had a new respect for Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith after watching that interview. They’ve raised a great young woman. I feel awfully for her to know she’s experiencing anxiety. I hope she finds some strategies that work for her. Loved her in Peanut Butter Falcon!

  14. horseandhound says:

    richard curtis’ movies mean so much to me. I will always love his humor and stories. notting hill is my favorite one. perfect script and execution. the lighthearted humor. the romance. spike. honey. the innocence of that movie.
    it’s hard to find a good rom com these days. none of the new movies have that magic about them. the last movie that made me feel some of that spark and bubbly feelings is love, rosie.

  15. Jumpingthesnark says:

    Oh gurl, you and me both………

  16. Siul says:

    It’s good to know she cares about the world. Now, my own world is the better for it.

  17. Dee Kay says:

    I am a fan of Dakota Johnson. She definitely was the lone saving grace of 50 Shades because she played it mostly as a comedy, which was the only “right” way to go with that part. But what really won me over was a movie called How to Be Single she did with Rebel Wilson and Leslie Mann. Johnson and Mann play sisters and Rebel Wilson is the funny wild partying friend. It’s not quite a romcom (it’s almost an anti-romcom, it’s about how to be *single*), but it has a similar lighthearted humorous vibe that I appreciate. Check it out if you haven’t seen it.

    • SallyJay says:

      Yes she is so lovely in that movie, and it’s actually a really good watch! I adore Dakota Johnson, she is beautiful for sure but in such an understated way. She has so much charm, she reminds me a little of Audrey Hepburn, that same quiet grace. I’m so glad you’ve come round on her Kaiser!