Dakota Johnson is a well-established actress in her own right. That’s why it’s easy to forget that she was born into Hollywood royalty as the daughter of the legendary Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson. Many times, being born to actor parents can work against you in the industry. People tend to believe that Hollywood kids are spoiled little brats who expect everything to be handed to them. This means they have to work even harder to prove themselves in the cut-throat business.
But with everything working against her, this rising star landed her big break in Fifty Shades of Grey. No matter how much praise she has received for her incredible talent, Dakota Johnson admitted that she will always kind of feel like a pretender. Instead of living off her famous name, she wants to create her own path. Although we didn’t watch her grow up on Disney or Nickelodeon, she certainly grew up to be a beautiful starlet.
Here is everything you need to know about Dakota Johnson and her famous family.
She Comes From a Hollywood Dynasty
Dakota Johnson is the heir to a Hollywood dynasty. Her grandmother is the legendary Tippi Hedren, known for starring in Hitchcock’s film The Birds. And her mother, of course, is the iconic Melanie Griffith. Nevertheless, Dakota explained she had a relatively normal childhood during a 2016 interview with Vogue.
She grew up in Woody Creek, Colorado. Her famous parents bragged about how their daughter “worked at the local store and did odd jobs like wash horses and babysit,” instead of living off her parents’ wealth. She truly makes them very proud.
Her Famous Parents
After her parents got divorced in 1996, the little girl had to split her time between Colorado and L.A., California, where her mother lived with the star of The Mask of Zorro, Antonio Banderas. Although it wasn’t a typical way to grow up, Johnson clarified, “My parents’ friends had children, and we understood each other’s lives.”
Looking back at her formative years, she explained, “The way I grew up is the way I grew up. I didn’t know different.” She also noted that “In L.A., there’s a wider awareness of celebrity families.”
Struggled With Stability
Due to the nature of her parents’ jobs and splitting her time living in two different homes, young Dakota found it difficult to establish roots. During a 2017 interview with Vogue, the actress admitted that she didn’t grow up in a particular place.
Starting therapy at the tender age of 3, Dakota explained that she just tagged along with her parents on set. She had school tutors or nannies always around. It’s not easy when your parents have such demanding jobs, but Dakota enjoyed her childhood, for the most part. No matter how unconventional it was.
The Life of Celebrity Kids
Despite her relatively happy childhood, the media frenzy surrounding her parents’ divorce was pretty tough for the youngster to deal with. “I was so consistently unmoored and discombobulated. I didn’t have an anchor anywhere,” the actress said.
Studying came with its own list of problems since she was used to being on set. She explained, “I never learned how to learn the way you’re supposed to as a kid. I thought, why do I have to go to school on time? What’s the point when you’re living in Budapest for six months while your stepdad films Evita and you go to school in your hotel room?”
Dakota’s Teenage Years
The older she got; the more Dakota Johnson had to deal with her family’s Hollywood fame. She told Elle in 2014 that her first “normal” high school experience was in a Catholic boarding school in northern California, and she hated it.
“I was just miserable there,” she revealed. Eventually, Dakota got her dad to bail her out, and she transferred to Santa Monica’s prestigious New Roads School, which the Olsen twins attended, as well.
Can’t Escape the Rumors
Although she was more settled, Dakota was constantly confronted with stories and rumors about her regular basis. She said, “Things get made up. It’s so, so sad. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it as a 16-year-old. You’re like, ‘What the f**k? Why? What did I do?’”
According to Dakota, there was a story about her being in rehab for a month as a teenager, but it was totally made up! Dakota explained how “As a child, you trust someone, and then they f**k you over.”
Joining the Family Business
In spite of her own family drama, Dakota always planned on becoming an actress. It makes perfect sense that she wouldn’t want to enter showbiz after watching what happened to her Hollywood parents. However, she did, and it even shocked her father. In 2019, she told The Guardian:
“I didn’t know that she wanted to do it. She hadn’t shared that with us. So, she’s 18, I think, at the time, and I’m going: ‘OK, I’ll just keep my eye on her and reach out and catch her.’” However, he soon realized she was serious, acknowledging, “She has the goods. She’s a wonderful actress and in some ways better than her mother [Melanie Griffith] and me.”
Acting Is in Her DNA
Tippi Hedren, Dakota Johnson’s grandmother, revealed that the family’s influence isn’t to blame for Dakota’s career choice, and she was never pushed into the industry: “I didn’t push Melanie into films, and she didn’t push Dakota. I didn’t think either of us is the type to push,” she told Vogue in 2017.
Either way, the grandmother and granddaughter don’t talk about show biz very much. “But I have told her that I think it’s important to do different things in life, to have a sense of balance,” Hedren mentioned. Dakota simply told Vogue, “I thought, this is just what my family does. It’s like, my dad’s a lawyer, so I’m a lawyer.”
Miss Golden Globe
Dakota Johnson’s first personal brush with fame came through the second most prestigious award show in entertainment. After one acting credit (a small role in 1999’s Crazy in Alabama, featuring her mother Melanie Griffith), the aspiring actress took the stage for one of the biggest nights in Hollywood as Miss Golden Globe 2006.
Vogue reported that Dakota was following in her mother’s footsteps since Melanie Griffith got that honor in 1975 – at the time, the iconic actress only had two uncredited roles under her belt.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
They are the only mother-daughter duo to both serve as a Miss Golden Globe (at the time of this article-2021). Entertainment Weekly reported that Dakota is in good company since other famous kids have also taken the role on other occasions, including Jack Nicholson’s daughter Larraine, who had the honor in 2007.
Bruce Willis and Demi Moore’s daughter, Rumor Willis, was Miss Golden Globe in 2009. It may have been a long way from Dakota Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey fame, but it certainly got the up-and-coming star noticed.
Playing Amelia Ritter
According to Vogue, just a few short years after she was Miss Golden Globe, Dakota Johnson snagged a role in the 2010 Facebook flick, The Social Network. She played the small part of Amelia Ritter, a flirty escort who got steamy with Justin Timberlake’s character, Sean Parker.
Dakota certainly made an impression in a movie that starred the likes of Jesse Eisenberg, who portrayed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. In 2012, she proudly said, “When I did The Social Network, [director] David Fincher told me that I managed to make a thankless character pretty awesome.”
A Flattering Compliment
Wow. that is a wonderful compliment, and Dakota was honored. The actress considered the director’s words as the nicest thing anybody has ever said about her work… but I’m sure she has heard more flattering compliments in the years since.
She explained that it meant so much, and she thought it was “really cool” for him to tell her that. This was way before she became a household name. The Social Network notably starred some famous faces like Andrew Garfield, Brenda Song, Rooney Mara, and Armie Hammer.
Gracing the Television Screen
Dakota Johnson got the chance to show off her acting range in 2012 thanks to the short-lived sitcom Ben and Kate. The actress gushed about her role, telling the Hollywood Reporter that “it’s a lot of fun, she’s like a loose cannon and can do or say anything. She’s a little bit darker and meaner, not necessarily intentionally, just because she’s rather selfish, so that’s fun.”
Although the show only lasted one season, it was just enough time for Dakota Johnson to showcase her comedic timing. It was absolutely evident through her portrayal.
An Incredible (Short-Lived) Performance
In 2018, Decider referred to her Ben and Kate character as the best role in Dakota Johnson’s career. The publication noted that although she is mostly well-known for playing the brooding, lip-biting star of Fifty Shades, she is actually a very funny performer but doesn’t usually get the credit she deserves.
On the sitcom, Dakota’s character was usually the scolding “voice of reason,” but it became something much more interesting through Dakota’s portrayal. Decider went on to say that “The writing staff took advantage of the actress’ innate comedic timing and instead made her an active participant in the misadventure of the week.”
Her Big Break Came With Controversy
Playing Anastasia Steele in the movie adaptation of the hit book series Fifty Shades of Grey was a role of a lifetime for Dakota Johnson, but of course, it came with some controversy. Currently, the film sits at 25 percent on the review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, which depicts the critics’ overwhelmingly negative reactions.
Fans of the book swamped the movie theaters, to the tune of $560 million globally, according to Box Office Mojo. Dakota Johnson is still loyal to the franchise that gave her that huge break and made her a household name.
A Smash Hit
There are many ungrateful stars that talk poorly about the network or movie that literally gave them their glamorous life of fame and fortune. However, Dakota Johnson was more than appreciative. In 2015, she told Vogue, “even if it’s commercial and mainstream, the subject matter isn’t.”
She added, “In that way, I can do something mass by ing true to my weird interests.” She got to play a role that any actress would die for and really enjoyed combining her quirky personality into the character she was playing.
Becoming Anastasia Steele
The actress explained that her character Anastasia is “hyperintelligent and hypersexual and very tough and very loving, and her character has so many different aspects that don’t normally make sense in one person. I tried to amplify them all.”
James Foley, director of both sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, had some nice things to say about his leading lady: “She has a very sensitive bullsh**t meter, so if she does something that is the least bit unreal, she just stops herself. She is bizarrely instinctual about it.”
No More Privacy
When she was at the peak of her mega-stardom, Dakota Johnson chatted with Vogue about how much her life was about to change. In 2015, the actress was still enjoying the benefits of being a recognizable face in Hollywood. It was no surprise that the popular book became a successful movie.
Dakota previously appeared in modeling campaigns, but she was never swarmed by paparazzi everywhere she went. She didn’t know what it was like to be followed at all times. “My most favorite thing about London is that nobody recognizes me. It’s really… cool,” she shared.
Fame Is Scary
Right before the adaptation of the Fifty Shades book dropped in theaters, Dakota Johnson opened up about her fears. It was new and frightening to get all this unwanted attention all of a sudden. She was worried about having absolutely no privacy.
“I think about my dwindling anonymity, and that’s really scary,” she said, noting that a big part of her just wants to live “on a ranch in Colorado” while taking care of animals and maybe even having a baby or two. The starlet acknowledged that she could still do all that at any time, especially if the never-ending attention became too much for her.
She Went Through a Tattoo Phase
Many actors try not to cover themselves in tattoos. It’s more of a musician thing, as body ink can decrease your chances of getting certain roles. But not Dakota Johnson. The actress herself admitted that she got very into tattoos until it was too late to go back.
Back in 2016, during an interview with Net-a-Porter, Dakota proudly stated a quote from Aldous Huxley’s novel Island that was inked in white: “Lightly, my darling.” Her sister, Stella Banderas, has a matching tattoo, which is so cute.
A Few Regrets
Although she loves having the same tattoo as her sister, the actress confessed that she has “some others I’m not too proud of.” Dakota said, “I went through a phase where I loved tattoos, and I loved the feeling of getting tattooed. But now I’ve outgrown them mostly, and because I always shave to cover them for jobs, God, they’re annoying!”
Now that the super famous star is an in-demand actress, Dakota understands that she “really should have listened to everyone,” noting, “but therein lies my problem in life.” It’s a pretty good problem to have if you ask me.
She Takes Pride in Her Work
Dakota Johnson certainly made a point to defend Fifty Shades of Grey’s Anastasia Steele, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t tried to hide her enthusiasm for playing any and every character she can – no matter the size.
She explained to Net-a-Porter that she doesn’t read reviews for one very simple reason: “If people are into my work, great. But I just want to enjoy my job. Artists are complicated and sensitive people, you know? At least I am a complicated and sensitive person.”
It’s All About the Character
You may wonder if Dakota prefers indies or blockbusters, but again, the actress definitively told Vogue that “the size of the role doesn’t matter to me. I don’t need to be the lead of a movie in order to want to do it. I have to love the character.”
As someone who never had any formal train (Dakota says that she and Julliard “mutually” split), she is certain about her career path. Perhaps it’s the acting genes, but Dakota was destined for stardom. “There was no Plan B. It’s mostly instinctual. I don’t have a process,” she shrugged.
Dakota Johnson has effortlessly jumped from indie darling to blockbuster breakout star. The actress wanted to give back, and she spends her free time as a passionate animal rights advocate.
In a 2015 Vogue profile, it was noted that her grandmother, Tippi Hedren, would often rescue animals that were being treated badly by Hollywood: particularly, by Alfred Hitchcock. Meanwhile, Melanie Griffith “famously grew up with a lion” living in her family home. Dakota remembers rescue elephants in Hedren’s backyard.
Her Grandma’s Ranch
According to Dakota Johnson, her grandmother’s ranch hosts “some small cats and some big cats,” namely, “lions and tigers, a black leopard, and a three-legged cheetah.” In an interview with Vogue just one year later, Dakota proudly said:
“My grandmother is one of the most extraordinary women in the world. She’s more quick-witted and wiser than anyone I know.” Clearly confident about following in her iconic grandma’s footsteps, Dakota revealed, “she still walks around the reserve at night and checks the tigers.”
She Likes Musicians
Magazines and other media outlets that have interviewed Dakota Johnson describe the actress as open, honest, and wonderfully frank. But there is still one topic she refuses to speak about: her relationship with Coldplay singer Chris Martin.
In 2019, People noted that the love birds spent Dakota’s 30th birthday together with an inside source reporting that “She and Chris were very affectionate. They walked around the party hand in hand. They were very cute.” Her mother, Melanie Griffith, also gushed to People saying, “I love my daughter’s boyfriend. I think that they’re an awesome couple.”
She Keeps Her Relationship Quiet
According to a Cosmopolitan timeline of their relationship, Dakota and Chris were rumored to be dating back in October 2017. Apparently, they took a break in June 2019 before reportedly getting back together shortly thereafter. So, they have been dating for quite a while at this point.
There were speculations about matching tattoos and even a pregnancy, which turned out to be false. Still, Dakota Johnson doesn’t want to discuss the romance, telling E! News, “I’m not going to talk about it. But I’m very happy.” As long as she’s happy.
Her Infamous Ellen Interview
Dakota Johnson’s 30th birthday party turned out to be the source of some strange controversy with talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, who publicly called her out on air for not receiving an invitation. However, Dakota immediately snapped back, telling Ellen that she was, in fact, invited but never showed up.
The story was all over the internet that week, with everyone giving their opinion on who was pulling the strings. That video resurfaced in 2020 when Ellen got “canceled,” and everyone was home in lockdown, rewatching that interview.
Dakota vs. Ellen
It certainly made for an uncomfortable segment on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but Dakota held her own. She calmly set the record straight, and many viewers thought they two were joking, not feuding – and they were correct.
That short-lived “feud” was just mindless gossip more than anything else. However, internet sleuths, who never fail to disappoint, discovered that Ellen was hanging out with former president George W. Bush on the day of Dakota’s birthday party. It caused quite the stir online, according to Time.
Whatever Happens, Happens
Despite her big-screen success, Dakota Johnson still feels like she’s trying to find her way and figure things out. When she sat down for a 2016 interview with The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, the actress admitted that she’s just kind of going with it:
“I don’t know what I’m doing… I have such an obsession with making movies that I probably will always do that. But sometimes my life can feel so suffocating, and then it can feel so massive like I don’t have a handle on it at all, and I don’t know where it’s going or what I’m going to do.”
The Pressure of Fame Gets to Her Sometimes
When it comes to the pressure of fame, like the press, the actress said that on some days, it bothers her more than others. Maybe because she grew up in a famous family, the territory that comes with fame wasn’t anything new to the Hollywood heiress. But like everyone else, she gets overwhelmed by it all. Sometimes she just needs a break:
“There are some days when I can do my thing and be in the world and walk around, and it’s fine. And then there are other days where it’s totally not fine, and I want to crawl into a hole and die.” But as she grew up and matured, the starlet “learned to be comfortable with my life being in constant flux.”
The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree
Dakota Johnson has had numerous personal accomplishments. With amazing roles showing off her talent and range under her belt, the actress has loved dabbling in different genres. From independent and horror movies to heartfelt films, Dakota has certainly built up an impressive resume. But remember, natural talent must run in her blood, considering the fact she comes from a family of acting legends.
Her famous family consists of more than just her celebrity mom Melanie Griffith and her famous dad, Don Johnson. Most people don’t know the extent of her acting dynasty or the influence of the famous people who raised her. Here is a quick look at Dakota Johnson’s Hollywood family tree.
Let’s start with the woman who gave birth to her, acclaimed actress Melanie Griffith, who starred as Tess McGill in Working Girl back in the 1980s. Her performance landed the starlet a Golden Globe award and an Academy Award nomination. Griffith went on to make several more movies, and she made countless guest appearances in television shows throughout the 2000s.
The first acting role Dakota Johnson landed was in her mom’s movie Crazy in Alabama, which was also directed by her then-stepfather, Antonio Banderas, who was married to Griffith at the time. Dakota played one of the kids alongside her half-sister, Stella Banderas.
The other half of Dakota’s Hollywood genes come from her father, Don Johnson, who has been acting since the ‘60s. He has appeared in plenty of movies and television shows, but he is mostly remembered for playing James “Sonny” Crockett in Miami Vice in the ‘80s. That role earned him a Golden Globe award and an Emmy nomination.
According to Yahoo, Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith met when she was 14, got married, and then split up six months later. They reunited in 1989, tied the knot for the second time, and Dakota was born later that same year. Unfortunately, their second marriage only lasted seven years.
Jesse Johnson is Don Johnson’s only child with ex-partner Patti. Don dated the actress from 1981 to 1986, and Jesse was born in 1982. Like his younger half-sister Dakota, Jesse is also following in his parents’ Hollywood footsteps, working as a director, actor, and producer.
Jesse inherited his parents’ talent and built up an impressive resume. He appeared on popular television shows, including Hawaii Five-0, Twin Peaks, Grey’s Anatomy, and NCIS, just to name a few. He also produced and starred in the 2013 movie Chapman.
Tippi Hedren is Melanie Griffith’s mother and Dakota Johnson’s grandmother. The starlet started off as a model and got her big break in acting after she was cast in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, one of his most popular horror films. Hedren went on to star in another Hitchcock classic, Marnie, as well as soap operas like The Bold and the Beautiful.
One of the most eccentric things about Hendren is that she was the proud owner of several big cats in the ‘60s and ‘70s, which were used in the movie Roar, one of the most dangerous movies to shoot.
The Original Tiger King
The movie starred Hedren, her ex-husband Noel Marshall, and her daughter Melanie Griffith, who had to have reconstructive surgery after being clawed by one of the wild cats on set. During a recent visit to The Graham Norton Show, Dakota revealed that her grandma still owns about 13 or 14 big cats but no longer has that gigantic compound.
She reminds me of Carol Baskin, only she didn’t kill her husband. Aside from her acting genes, Dakota certainly inherited her grandmother’s love of animals. She is a strong and passionate animal rights advocate herself.
Although Antonio Banderas isn’t related to Dakota Johnson by blood, he had a huge impact on the starlet since he was her “bonus dad” for almost two decades. In 1996, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith tied the knot. Despite their 2015 divorce, Dakota still looks at Banderas as a father figure. During the Hollywood Film Awards, she gave a touching speech and still calls him “Papi.”
“I come from a family of many a marriage, and I got very lucky,” Dakota said as she presented her former stepfather with the trophy for his work in Pain and Glory. She called the iconic actor “one of the most influential people in my whole life.”
Although she comes from a family tree of acting icons, Dakota isn’t the only heir to her Hollywood family dynasty. She has two sisters: Stella Banderas from her mom’s side and Grace Johnson from her dad’s side. She also has a few half-brothers that we haven’t forgotten about.
Born in 1996, Stella is 25 years old now and doesn’t seem very interested in the family business. Her only role was with her sister Dakota in their mom’s 1999 movie Crazy in Alabama. She is Antonio’s only biological daughter. Stella prefers to live a quieter life and seems to stay out of the spotlight.
Don Johnson had his second daughter Grace with his current wife, Kelley. Although she doesn’t have a Hollywood career, Grace has a natural inclination to the arts and entertainment. She is signed under I.M.G. Models, the same agency that represents supermodels like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Lily Aldridge, Karlie Kloss, and Paloma Elsesser, just to name a few.
Grace models from many brands like Banana Republic, Goop, and Dakota Jinx and was featured in magazines like Glamour and Santa Barbara Magazine. If that isn’t enough, she has also strutted the runway, walking for the Christian Cowan x The Powerpuff Girls fashion show in 2019.
Jasper is Don Johnson’s 19-year-old son with his wife, Kelley. The teenager seems to stay out of the limelight and hasn’t entered showbiz… yet. We don’t know what the future holds, but right now, it’s unclear if he is even on social media. But his famous dad often uploads snapchats with Jasper.
He is a huge fan of sports and likes to go to Dodgers baseball games with his dad. According to his dad’s social media, it looks like Jasper is a basketball player. Don shared a clip from one of Jasper’s games a few years ago and said that he got two dunks in one game. Maybe he didn’t catch the acting bug, but he certainly inherited athleticism.
Don Johnson’s youngest son is 15-year-old Deacon. Grace, Jasper, and Deacon are full siblings as they all share the same mother, Kelley. Like his big brother, Deacon also loves sports and joins his dad and Jasper on their trips to Dodgers games. As shown on his dad’s Instagram, little Deacon met late-night host Jimmy Fallon.
During the holidays, Deacon and his siblings help out at shelters. Don shared a Snapchat from December 2018, showing his son, as well as other children, prepping food at a Santa Barbara shelter on Christmas Eve.