Dakota Johnson is far from being a cliché despite her family background (her parents are Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson), her successful career after acting in the erotic romance Fifty Shades, and being the queen of the red carpet, with glamorous outfits like the last Gucci gown created for her.
She shows, instead, a fragile side (she has fought against depression since she was 14) that makes her escape from stereotypes and reveals her peculiar personality, which brought her to accept a role in The Lost Daughter, the first movie by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Uneasy and comforting at the same time, the film is a crepuscular and intense story about the imperfections and hidden truths of being a mother. But Nina is not the only strong character played by Johnson. She is going to be the protagonist of the latest film version of Persuasion, Jane Austen’s posthumous novel.
The film is based on Elena Ferrante’s novel. What does it reveal?
It brings to light secret truths regarding women’s experiences; I’d like that more to be told about it. Over the years, I recognize myself in many other women. There’s a wrong idea that a woman can only be one single thing, but that has never been true. The character’s interpretation in the film was not easy to perform; she is troublesome, contradictory, offbeat.
Why did you accept the role?
I admire Maggie’s work. After meeting up in New York for the film, I was delighted. She is special, and I suddenly felt attuned to her. She always manages to surprise me and encourages me to be better as an actor and person.
Were you worried about the role?
I was terrified, but I felt safe on the set since the first moment. If this film is so intense, it is because of the atmosphere and complicity between actors and director; that is not something you give for granted on a film set.
What is the major quality you reckon in Gyllenhaal?
The ability to see and recount truth as nobody dares to unveil. When you know Maggie, you would like to have her point of view.
How did you get out of depression?
I started to fight against the monster when I was 14-15 years old. Then the anxiety attacks came along like the ones that occurred during the shooting of Suspiria, which compelled my wellbeing. With time and therapy, I learned to live with it and to avoid involving the people around me too much.