Dakota Johnson Thinks ‘Fifty Shades’ Would Have Been Better If She Wrote It

She’s probably right

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 18: Dakota Johnson is seen on June 18, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.  (Pho...
Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images
Allie Jones
The Truth, Ellen

Truth-teller Dakota Johnson is on the July cover of Vanity Fair to promote her upcoming star turn in Persuasion, her successful new production company, and her role as “co-creative director” of a “sexual wellness brand” (company that sells vibrators). She talks about meeting her fellow nepo-baby Riley Keough in an In-N-Out parking lot when she was 15, watching Malibu seals with her current BF Chris Martin, and why she hates the term “cancel culture” (don’t care). The real meat of the profile comes at the very end, when Johnson discusses her experience making the three Fifty Shades of Grey films. Turns out it was not the serene, sexy paradise you might imagine.

Referring to the films as “those big naked movies,” Johnson said, “It just became something crazy. There were a lot of different disagreements. I haven’t been able to talk about this truthfully ever, because you want to promote a movie the right way, and I’m proud of what we made ultimately and everything turns out the way it’s supposed to, but it was tricky.”

The press tour for the first movie was, famously, a struggle. But Johnson said that the issues mostly stemmed from the involvement of Fifty Shades author E.L. James. “She had a lot of creative control, all day, every day, and she just demanded that certain things happen. There were parts of the books that just wouldn’t work in a movie, like the inner monologue, which was at times incredibly cheesy. It wouldn’t work to say out loud. It was always a battle. Always.”

“We’d do the takes of the movie that Erika wanted to make, and then we would do the takes of the movie that we wanted to make,” she added. “The night before, I would rewrite scenes with the old dialogue so I could add a line here and there. It was like mayhem all the time.” (Johnson also noted that she auditioned with a monologue from the Bergman classic Persona.)

Still, Johnson said she doesn’t regret making the movies, because she’s a complicated person with a range of emotions, which of course is why we love her. “If I had known at the time that’s what it was going to be like, I don’t think anyone would’ve done it,” she said. “It would’ve been like, ‘Oh, this is psychotic.’ But no, I don’t regret it.”

Most importantly, Vanity Fair writer Britt Hennemuth writes, the films “led Johnson down an unexpected path as an entrepreneur” with the vibrator company. Worth it!