Dakota Johnson is on a mothering streak. Not in real life, but in two of the most recent movies she’s starred in — Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Netflix film The Lost Daughter, and Cooper Raiff’s Sundance drama Cha Cha Real Smooth.
In The Lost Daughter, Johnson plays a young woman struggling with motherhood who finds comfort in Olivia Colman’s character, Lena. In Cha Cha Real Smooth, Johnson plays a woman whose autistic daughter (Vanessa Burghardt) forms an unlikely friendship with a recent college grad (Raiff) at a bar mitzvah party.
The actor says that although she herself isn’t a mother “yet,” she gets her inspiration from the mothers in her life, including her best friend.
“My best friend is a mother of two kids who are my god babies, and she’s a big part of if I have to — if I play a mother in a film, it’s a lot of watching her be a mom and asking her questions about what it really looks like, deep on the inside,” Johnson said on Sunday during a virtual Q&A session after the film’s world premiere at Sundance.
“I also grew up with a lot of siblings. I mean, I’m not a mother yet, so I don’t have my own experience to draw from, but I did have a lot of siblings and I did raise a lot of them or take care of them,” Johnson added. Her dog, Zeppelin, was also present during this Q&A, which makes her a dog mom, too.
Raiff, who directs and stars in the movie, jumped in to give Johnson props on her maternal instincts.
“I can say, I think you’re just so maternal. I think Dakota’s got this very open heart that a lot of mothers that I know have, but they have very great boundaries as well,” he said. “Of course, Dakota, or Domino, the character, has a lot going on.”
“She doesn’t really have boundaries,” Johnson joked.
Cooper added: “But at the core, there’s a line that she has, and I think it’s very specific to certain mothers. They have this switch, and Dakota is very, very protective in real life and very much has that. All of a sudden, there’s a line, and it’s very, very, very maternal. Vanessa [Burghardt] and I were talking about that yesterday, actually, how maternal you are.”
That last bit made Johnson smile.
Main image: Dakota Johnson appears in Cha Cha Real Smooth, directed by Cooper Raiff, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.