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We’re less than a year away from the release Fifty Shades Of Grey, and while we’ve gotten a full cast list and tons of details, the majority of fans still don’t know a ton about the woman who will be toplining the film: Dakota Johnson. So, let’s meet her.
From growing up in a famous family to snagging modeling contracts at a young age, Dakota Johnson was born on October 4, 1989 in Austin, Texas and is a little over 5'7". In just 24 years, she's already lived a hectic and full life that's intersected with show business at least at some level since she made her film debut opposite her mother as a child in 1999's Crazy In Alabama. Regardless of the success of Fifty Shades Of Grey, she should have an extremely bright future ahead of her too thanks to her talent, her beauty and her likability. Plus, I’m not sure I know a single person who thinks Fifty Shades Of Grey won’t at least make a sizable hole in the box office when it’s released in time for Valentine’s Day, 2015.
So, without further ado, here are 10 big things that will help you meet and get to know Dakota Johnson.
Her Family Situation Is WeirdBack in the early 1970s, Don Johnson was living with groupie to the stars Pamela Des Barres. He was 22, and it seemed like the two might settle down together. Then, he met Tippie Hedren’s 14-year-old daughter Melanie Griffith, and for some reason, people decided it was OK for them to move in together and start dating. They got engaged when she was 18 and many observers thought they would be Hollywood’s next power couple.
The marriage didn’t even last through the 1976 calendar, but by some miracle, the relationship was rekindled more than a decade later. The two re-married in 1989, this time lasting 7 years before splitting. Dakota was born almost immediately after they reconciled. Both of her parents later re-married, Don Johnson to a Montessori school teacher and Melanie Griffith to Antonio Banderas. Altogether, it’s definitely not the type of thing most of us grew up with, it seems to have all worked out for her.
Being Miss Golden Globe Did Wonders For Her CareerEvery year, the major Hollywood award shows choose some beautiful teenagers and twenty-somethings to help hand out the actual statues. More often than not, these lucky participants are actually the sons and daughters of Hollywood royalty. Back in 2006, the Golden Globes picked Dakota Johnson, and she went over extremely well with not only those in attendance but more importantly, with more than a few decision-makers who were watching the festivities back at home.
Later that same year, she was approached by IMG Models and quickly signed a contract. That agreement led to numerous modeling jobs and really got the momentum rolling on her career. Obviously, we’ll never know for sure how much of a part being Miss Golden Globe actually played in later success, but it certainly got the ball rolling on her future a little bit more quickly.
She Was A Lead In The Sitcom Ben & KateIn early 2012, FOX began work on a brand new sitcom about a young single mother, her popular, kinda stupid older brother and the daughter they kinda sorta were raising together. It starred Nat Faxon, Maggie Elizabeth Jones and Abby Elliott. Following the table read, however, the network decided to bring in Dakota Johnson to replace Elliott. The pilot was very well received, and the show went to air with very high expectations in September of 2013.
Ben & Kate was able to build up a pretty dedicated audience of hardcore fans very quickly, but unfortunately for all involved, there total number just wasn’t strong enough to keep the series on the air. 16 episodes were ultimately produced before the cancellation hammer was dropped, and sadly, the final three never even aired in the United States. That being said, it proved to be a perfect vehicle for even more people to notice just how talented and oddly magnetic Dakota Johnson is at her best.
She’s Had A Ton Of Success In The Modeling WorldFor a 23-year-old girl, Dakota Johnson has a nice little acting career going. She’s been in a lot of shows, quite a few movies and she has 50 Shades Of Grey coming up. Clearly, there’s nothing to scoff at, but a strong case could be made that, had she focused on modeling, she would actually be even further ahead. In the several years she focused more on that facet of her career, she landed major label campaigns for MANGO, Wish, Uniquelo and Oliver Peoples.
With a tall, waifish look that would work well for runway and a cute, girl next door face that could sell magazines, Johnson probably could have made a fortune modeling if she would have focused on that full-time. Obviously, she had different plans, but if for whatever reason acting doesn’t work out, she has a pretty guaranteed source of income in that world for the next seven or ten years. Maybe even longer too, it just depends on how she will age. Some people are knockouts into their late 60s. Others, not so much.
She Attended The Prestigious New Roads SchoolAfter a year at the Santa Catalina School in Monterey, California, Dakota Johnson transferred to New Roads in Santa Monica, California for her final three years. As private schools go in the Los Angeles area, New Roads is far from the most famous, but that will probably change over the next few decades. Opened in 1995, it was founded by the same people who run The CrossRoads School, which has graduated an insane number of Hollywood celebrities including but not limited to the Deschanel sisters, Kate Hudson, Jonah Hill, Sean Astin and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Yearly tuition for the private school runs in the five figures, but half of its spots are reserved for bright kids in the Los Angeles area who can’t afford to pay the lofty price tag. No doubt Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith didn’t apply for financial assistance, but the highly cultured environment that features students of all races, socioeconomic levels and backgrounds helped prepare her to work with a wide range of people in Hollywood. And it helped her to learn how to deal with mean girls.
She Was Bullied And Went To Rehab As A TeenHaving two parents who found incredible Hollywood success and a step-father who is still a gigantic name might sound like a pretty cushy life situation for a teenager, but the truth is kids aren’t always the most tolerant of differences. Dakota Johnson has revealed in the past that she had it pretty rough, particularly when her parents were battling personal problems. Other kids reportedly would bring in magazine clippings and tease her about it.
All of that pressure eventually got to her when she was around 17. She checked into rehab to try and deal with it all, and while it was initially alleged to be a substance abuse problem, Johnson has claimed it was actually related to stress and desperately needing therapy. Regardless, she now seems refreshed and back on the straight and narrow.
Her Longtime Boyfriend Is An Actor And ScientologistUnless you’re a gigantic Last Man Standing fan, you’ve probably never heard of Jordan Masterson, but you probably recognize that face. He was a regular on Greek, appeared in 40-Year-Old Virgin and has had a ton of bit parts. He’s the half-brother of Danny Masterson from That 70s Show, Chris Masterson from Malcolm In The Middle and Alanna Masterson from The Walking Dead. He comes from a family of noted Scientologists and appears to be a Scientologist himself, though Johnson's relationship to the church is unclear.
He and Dakota Johnson have been together for years, and they show no signs of breaking up. In fact, he recently bought and installed double sinks in her house as a birthday present. And we all know, nothing says love like a selfless, time-intensive gesture pointing toward long-term commitment.
She’s Stolen Scenes In A Few Great MoviesApart from Ben & Kate, Dakota Johnson hasn’t had many starring roles in big Hollywood projects, which is probably why so many were shocked when she was cast as Ana in Fifty Shades Of Grey. She has, however, stolen scenes in a few really great movies. In fact, whether you realized it was her or not, you probably left the theater thinking about her on several occasions. First, she played the Stanford college student who Justin Timberlake sleeps with in The Social Network, which sounds like a dumb thankless role but is actually really integral to the plot and really charming in a weird way.
Later, she played the much younger girlfriend of Jason Segal’s character in The Five-Year-Engagement who is obsessed with having sex, dancing, painting and being active every second of every day. In the grand scheme of the main couple’s relationship, she’s a bit of a sad blip, but she’s a very important blip and she’s able to grab as many laughs as possible during her few minutes of screen time.
A Failed Audition For Girls Really Helped Her CareerYou know how they say Hollywood is about who you know? Well, that’s true in ways people don’t always realize. Because of her parents and her modeling work, Dakota Johnson has been known in the industry for years, but she didn’t actually know a ton of people who could help her get roles. That changed in 2010 when she auditioned for the show Girls in front of Judd Apatow. He decided she wasn’t right for that show, but when it came time for his buddy Nick Stoller to cast 5-Year-Engagement, he recommended her. Later, that same process repeated itself when Jake Kasdan was looking for someone to take over for Abby Elliott in Ben & Kate.
Sometimes just getting in front of people and proving how talented you are is the most important thing. Not every single person is meant to be in every single movie, but failure can open up a few doors that won’t show up until down the road. She clearly knocked her audition in front of Apatow out of the park, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her appear in more Apatow-related projects down the road.
She’s Got A Bunch Of Exciting Projects Coming UpWhile everyone expects Fifty Shades Of Grey to be at least a moderate hit, the film isn’t Dakota Johnson’s only opportunity to break into the mainstream. She also has a whole plate of really sweet projects on the horizon including one with Ethan Hawke and one with Johnny Depp. The one with Ethan Hawke is an adaptation of a William Shakespeare play called Cymbeline. It also stars Hawke, Milla Jovovich, Ed Harris, Anthony Yelchin and the dude who played Dan on Gossip Girl.
After Cymbeline, Johnson is going to shoot Black Mass, which is a biopic about notorious Boston mob leader Whitey Bulger. Depp is set to play the title character, and he will be joined by heavyweights Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Adam Scott, Sienna Miller and the vastly underrated character actor W Earl Brown. Expect that one to do big business at the box office when it hits theaters in 2015.