Dakota Johnson’s First Movie Role Involved Her Mom, Stepdad, and a ‘Crying Baby’

Best known for her work in the Fifty Shades film franchise, Dakota Johnson has been in the limelight since she was a young child. Born into a Hollywood family, Johnson always knew she wanted to act. Before she was 10 years old, Johnson was landing parts in movies. From supernatural thrillers to romantic comedies, Johnson has done a little bit of everything. However, it all started on the set of the movie Crazy in Alabama, a 1999 comedy-drama directed by Johnson’s former stepfather, Antonio Banderas. In a recent interview, Johnson described the experience, revealing why making Crazy in Alabama involved more than a bit of chaos.

What did Dakota Johnson say about making her first movie?

Johnson was surrounded by the bright lights of Hollywood from a very early age. Her mother, actor Melanie Griffith, was a major star in the ’80s, while her father, Don Johnson, is well-known for his iconic role in Miami Vice. Johnson’s parents divorced when she was very young, with her mother going on to marry Antonio Banderas. He helped give Johnson her first film role, casting her in the 1999 movie Crazy in Alabama, which he directed.

In a June 2022 interview with Vanity Fair, Johnson opened up about her experience on the film set. “Crazy In Alabama, I was nine, and my stepfather directed the movie. My mom starred in it, and I played her daughter,” the actor recalled. “And I still remember all my lines ’cause I only had like two or three of them. But I took it very seriously and like, demanded that I have time with the vocal coach. That was really fun.”

Dakota Johnson’s show-business connections

Johnson wasn’t the only young person in her family to land a minor role in Crazy in Alabama. Her younger stepsister, Stella Banderas, had a part as well. As Johnson described to Vanity Fair, “my little sister played my mom’s youngest daughter, and she was a baby. She was like, one and a half maybe? And every time Antonio, my stepfather, her dad, yelled “Action,” she’d freak. She just burst into tears and would be sobbing the entire take.”

Johnson said, “He’d yell cut, come over and be like, ‘Stella,’ and she’d be fine and happy. I think she thought it was really scary when he yelled action, and I was the one holding her the whole time like running down the street holding this crying, crying, baby.” 

Johnson might not have had the easiest time on the film set. But not long after, she determined she wanted to act for a living. Johnson has revealed that neither of her parents encouraged her to go into acting, wanting her to experience a “normal” childhood. In a January 2022 interview with W Magazine, she noted that her father, Don Johnson, wanted her to attend college. But she rebelled, admitting she was dazzled by the “amazing artists” her parents worked with. 

Dakota Johnson is very close to her family

dakota johnson first movie
Actors Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith (R) with daughter Dakota Johnson (L) attend the Los Angeles premiere of the Dreamworks Pictures’ film “Shrek 2” at the Mann Village Theatre May 8, 2004 in Westwood, California. | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Johnson has always valued family. Even though Banderas and Griffith divorced in 2015, she remains extremely close to her stepfather. She has often referred to Banderas as her “bonus dad,” calling him out as having an indelible impact on her life. In 2019, when presenting Banderas with the Best Actor award at the Hollywood Film Awards, Johnson called Banderas a “bright light,” noting that his artistry helped inspire her to go into acting.

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