Akota

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - CELEBRITY -

D

SUR­PRIS­INGLY, DAKOTA JOHN­SON DOESN’T ACT LIKE a ‘Movie Star’. This, de­spite the fact that she is the daugh­ter of Me­lanie Gri th and Don John­son, the for­mer step­daugh­ter of an­other movie star (An­to­nio Ban­deras), and the grand­daugh­ter of movie leg­end Tippi He­dren. She was pro­tec­tively told what a tabloid was at the age that other girls were get­ting their rst dolls. She’s been act­ing since she was 10, and her star sta­tus was ce­mented last year when she de­liv­ered a near aw­less per­for­mance as the win­some naïf (‘I’m here to see… Mr Grey’) turned wary bondage par­tic­i­pant Anas­ta­sia Steele in the block­buster movie from the block­buster book that needs lit­tle more hint than ‘the red room’ for you to know what we’re talk­ing about. She lit up the screen in Fe­bru­ary’s How to Be Sin­gle, a chicks-gone-wild fem­i­nist frolic that calls to mind the too-lik­able-to-be-jeal­ous-of screen sweet­heart that Meg Ryan was to a pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. In May’s A Big­ger Splash, she ditches the re­lata­bil­ity to be­come a de­vi­ous nymphet in Lolita glasses who may or may not be the daugh­ter of a larger-than-life record pro­ducer (played by Ralph Fi­ennes, with Tilda Swin­ton as his rock star ex-lover). ‘She’s more of a pro than any of us,’ says Tilda. ‘She is ex­tremely ex­pe­ri­enced and knows ex­actly what she is do­ing.’

Given all that, you ex­pect a po­lite but blasé young woman to waft into Cafe Lux­em­bourg on Man­hat­tan’s Up­per West Side for lunch. But when Dakota, 26, bounds in – not a trace of make-up on her pale, aw­less skin, her light-brown hair fall­ing in wisps to the shoul­ders of her black polo neck – she is more like a bouncy, wry grad­u­ate stu­dent than a third-gen­er­a­tion celebrity. Dakota does this fame busi­ness strictly on her own terms. With her, be­ing an anti-star seems both a per­son­al­ity trait and a mis­sion. When asked a per­sonal ques­tion, ‘Are you back with [Drown­ers lead singer and gui­tarist] Matthew Hitt?’, she emits a ‘nice try!’ snicker. In-be­tween bites of steak, Dakota makes it clear there’s thought­ful­ness, can­dour, vul­ner­a­bil­ity and out­rage at what’s wrong with the world be­hind her quippy bon mots and ge­nial sar­casm. There’s also a sweet­ness.

In How to Be Sin­gle, Dakota is Alice, who half holds on to a too-safe re­la­tion­ship in or­der to live on her own in Man­hat­tan. Alice learns the hard way the di er­ence be­tween ‘ un­at­tached’ and ‘in­de­pen­dent’. It’s some­thing Dakota is fa­mil­iar with. Does she care to elab­o­rate? ‘No!’ She ab­hors gos­sip. ‘It just sucks! It sucks!’ she re­peats, as if do­ing so could ban­ish old items (in­clud­ing those link­ing her to ac­tors Jake Gyl­len­haal and Jor­dan Master­son) from the web. De­spite the fact that the lat­ter was true, ‘Don’t trust any­thing on the in­ter­net’ is her an­them. ‘I would like to think that peo­ple in this in­dus­try have one an­other’s backs,’ she says, ‘but some­times they don’t. I’ve be­come in­creas­ingly wary and pro­tec­tive of who I speak to hon­estly, of who my friends are.’ Then there are those in­va­sive pho­tog­ra­phers. ‘Just be­cause I’m in the pub­lic eye, does that mean that my busi­ness is ev­ery­one’s busi­ness? I don’t feel tough enough to be ac­costed by peo­ple,’ Dakota has con­cluded.

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