At least Dakota Johnson has a sense of humor. “Saturday Night Live” posted several promotional videos to advertise her hosting this weekend’s show, and the first mocks her behavior on the Oscars red carpet last Sunday. The ribbing is well deserved, and it’s nice that Johnson can be in the joke.
Johnson’s red-carpet performance during her interview with ABC’s Lara Spencer was more revealing than most actresses’ dresses, and it was more interesting than the Academy Awards themselves. We watched a 25-year-old act petulant and irritated with her mother, who also happens to be actress Melanie Griffith. The mother-daughter duo looked incredibly glamorous in their designer dresses, but the body language and Johnson’s reactions to her mother during the minute-long interview were ugly.
Why was Johnson so peeved? Spencer asked Griffith whether she’d seen blockbuster film “Fifty Shades of Grey,” in which Johnson plays the female lead. Many people must have wondered the same thing. Uttered aloud though, it does seem like an odd question, asking a mother whether she’s watched her daughter’s explicit sex scenes on the big screen while sitting amongst a sea of strangers.
Melanie Griffith, the Normal Mother
As it happens, Griffith has apparently not seen her daughter’s performance in the BDSM blockbuster. “I don’t think I can. I think it would be strange,” she told Spencer about watching her daughter’s star-turn as Anastasia Steele. Johnson insists, “I think so. I think that one day you can see it.” But should Griffith? Who would want that?
Ordinarily, I’d side with Johnson’s view, believing a mother should support her children in their professional efforts. In a family of actors, that means being first in line to see a new release. However, in this case, I found myself scratching my head. Why exactly does Johnson want her mother watching as she performs 20 minutes of kinky on-screen sex scenes with someone else’s husband?
Griffith may be a Hollywood veteran, but her response was incredibly human. She sounds like a regular parent from Anywhere, USA. That is admittedly somewhat surprising, given that Griffith is so very Hollywood. She is Tippi Hedren’s daughter, and she was fairly precocious in her own youth; Griffith began dating Dakota’s father, Don Johnson, when she was 14 and “he was a twice-divorced 22-year-old.”
Griffith deserves praise for beginning the interview by mentioning how proud she is of her daughter, as well as noting that she’s now said it so often, the words seem insufficient. When our kids grow up and do well for themselves—however we define that—we should be proud. When asked about our children, we should want to kvell.
When Spencer assures Griffith that while there are “those scenes,” Johnson is “really good.” Griffith doesn’t miss a beat before replying, “She’s a really good actress. I don’t need to see that to know how good she is.” That was a really nice moment. It’s just a shame Johnson felt the need to ruin it by continuing to whine at her mother. Because if Johnson stopped to think about it, it’s actually more satisfying that “Fifty Shades of Grey” isn’t “just a movie” to her mom. Griffith cares about her daughter, and that’s better than any Hollywood ending.