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Dakota Johnson grew up in a famous Hollywood family. She started going to therapy at age 3.

You might know Dakota Johnson from her role in the raunchy 50 Shades of Grey films, or from the front row of fashion weeks around the world.

But long before becoming a celebrity in her own right, she grew up in one of Hollywood’s most famous families.

With movie stars as parents, a young Dakota spent her childhood travelling the world, going to school on film sets and walking red carpets. But behind the glitz was a child who started going to therapy at the age of three, and had to wear the consequences of her parents’ highly-publicised personal battles.

From the 30-year-old’s decades-long battle with mental health to her extremely private relationship with Coldplay singer Chris Martin, let’s take a deep dive into Dakota Johnson’s life.

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Dakota Johnson’s famous family.

If anyone was born into Hollywood, it’s Johnson.

Her mum is actress Melanie Griffith, arguably best known for her role as Tess McGill in the 1988 film Working Girl that saw her win a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, and receive an Academy Award nomination. You’ll also know Griffith from her roles in a bunch of movies and TV shows, including Night Moves, Something Wild, Crazy in Alabama, Buffalo Girls, Lolita, Another Day in Paradise, Hawaii Five-0, Nip/Tuck, Twins, and Raising Hope.

Johnson’s dad is also an actor. Don Johnson was an ’80s sex symbol, playing James “Sonny” Crockett in the award-winning TV series Miami Vice. He also played the title character in the ’90s series Nash Bridges. Most recently, he starred in Knives Out.

Oh, and her grandmother on her mother’s side is actress Tippi Hedren, who was discovered by Hollywood director Alfred Hitchcock. She starred in his 1960s’ films The Birds and Marnie.


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Melanie Griffith, Dakota Johnson, Alexander Bauer, and Antonio Banderas in 1997. Image: Getty.
Dakota with actor father Don Johnson at a film premiere in 2001. Image: Getty.
Dakota practically grew up on red carpets. Here, she's with Antonio Banderas and mum Melanie Griffith in 2003. Image: Getty.
Mum and daughter attended a Teen Vogue party together in 2004. Image: Getty,
Dakota maintains great relationships with all her parental figures. Here she is with dad Don Johnson in 2017. Image: Getty.
Step-father Antonio Banderas also attended the same event. Image: Getty.

Johnson's parents met on a movie set in 1972. Griffith was 14 and Don Johnson was 22. InStyle reports they moved in together when Griffith was 15, before getting engaged on her 18th birthday and marrying that same year in 1976.

Their marriage only lasted six months, and after divorcing, both went on to date other people. But they later re-married in 1989, and had their only daughter together, Dakota Johnson.

While hosting SNL, Johnson said she believes she was actually conceived on the night her mum hosted the US comedy show in 1988.

"Right after the show, my father got down on one knee and proposed to her for the second time... and exactly nine months later, I was born!" she said, pointing to her parents sitting in the audience.

Her parents ended up divorcing again in 1994, but have always remained close friends. Griffith went on to marry Hollywood actor Antonio Banderas, and Don Johnson married teacher Kelly Phleger.

Speaking of her upbringing with famous parents to Vogue in 2017, Johnson said the media attention on her parents' divorce, and growing up in two different households - Griffith and Banderes lived in LA, and her father lived in Colorado, was a "mind f*ck".

"I was so consistently unmoored and discombobulated. I didn't have an anchor anywhere," she said.

"The way I grew up is the way I grew up. I didn't know different. My parents' friends had children and we understood each other's lives. Besides, in LA, there's a wider awareness of celebrity families."

Having high profile parents, both with their own public relationship dramas and drug and alcohol addictions, meant high school wasn't a pleasant experience for Johnson.

"I was just miserable there. It was a great school, but girls in that concentration are so horrific, just horrific," she told Elle in 2014 of her first regular high school experience at a Catholic boarding school.


An acting career that started at age 10, and took off after 50 Shades of Grey.

Johnson with 50 Shades co-star Jamie Dornan. Source: Universal.

Johnson got a taste for Hollywood at a young age, attending award shows with her parents and getting her first acting gig at age 10.

In 1999, she made her film debut in Crazy in Alabama, where she and her half-sister, Stella Banderas, played the daughters to their real-life mother, Melanie Griffith. After that, she wasn't allowed to act again until she graduated high school.

Johnson told Vogue she decided to get into the family business for the same reasons anyone would. "I thought, this is just what my family does. It's like, my dad's a lawyer, so I'm a lawyer," she said.

In 2010, Johnson played a small part in The Social Network, in which she had a scene with Justin Timberlake. However, Johnson's breakout role was playing Anastasia Steele in the film adaption of the 50 Shades of Grey novels. The role saw her take part in a number of sex scenes, which her parents have 100 per cent not watched.

"I think, my dad was pretty protective. But when it came to me doing this job, they kind of didn't have a choice. But they judge me on what kind of human I am to other humans," Johnson said of her parents' reactions to the role in an interview with the New Zealand Herald.

Since 50 Shades of Grey, Johnson has starred in How To Be Single and Bad Times at the El Royale, as well as two other 50 Shades franchise films and The Peanut Butter Falcon with Shia LaBeouf. She's also a fashion icon, and has a bunch of Hollywood friends.

Dakota with 50 Shades co-star Jamie Dornan in 2018. Image: Getty.
Dakota attended the 2019 Met Gala. Image: Getty.
Here she is with famous friends, actress Saoirse Ronan, and singer Harry Styles. Image: Getty.
Dakota attended the Gucci fashion show at Milan Fashion Week in Feb, 2020. Image: Getty.

Dakota Johnson on living with mental illness.


Johnson has said in many interviews she started "going to therapy" at the age of three.

She told Elle: "My parents had some problems of their own that put me in a position of having to deal with very grown-up stuff at a very young age. I needed some help with that, therapy-wise. And in turn, as a child, you trust someone and then they f*ck you over."

In a new interview with Marie Claire, Johnson talked about living with depression and anxiety for more than a decade, as well as the effect the coronavirus pandemic is having on her mental health.

“I’ve struggled with depression since I was young - since I was 15 or 14. That was when, with the help of professionals, I was like, Oh, this is a thing I can fall into. But I’ve learned to find it beautiful because I feel the world," she said.

"I guess I have a lot of complexities, but they don’t pour out of me. I don’t make it anyone else’s problem. My brain moves at a million miles per minute. I have to do a lot of work to purge thoughts and emotions, and I am in a lot of therapy. I’m constantly thinking about the state of the world right now. It keeps me up at night, all night, every night. My brain goes to crazy dark places with it."

In 2007, media outlets reported she spent time in a Malibu rehab facility. Johnson has always denied the story, saying both her and her parents' battles were misconstrued.

Inside Dakota Johnson and Chris Martin's private relationship.

Chris Martin and Dakota Johnson have never taken a photo together (not including paparazzi photos). Image: Getty.

Johnson's relationship with Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin has always been fairly private.

Martin, who "consciously uncoupled" with former wife of a decade, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, in 2014, was first romantically linked to Johnson in 2017 when they were seen eating together around LA, and she was seen attending several Coldplay concerts.

Although there were rumours the couple had split in 2019, they reconciled and have been seen holidaying with Paltrow and her husband Brad Falchuck, and Martin and Paltrow's children.

In a 2020 Harper's Bazaar interview, Paltrow said she fully supports her ex's relationship with Johnson.

"I love her. I can see how it would seem weird because it’s sort of unconventional. But I think, in this case, just having passed through it iteratively, I just adore her," she said.

In February this year, Johnson made her directorial debut, directing Coldplay's video for their song 'Cry Cry Cry'.

Martin and Johnson also appear to be isolating together. In March, Johnson's friend, actress Olivia Wilde, shared a video of Johnson demonstrating how to wash your hands. Even though Martin's face isn't in the video, fans quickly realised they were his hands by the "M" and "A" tattoos on each of the wrists symbolising Martin's children, Apple and Moses.


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That interview with Ellen DeGenerous.

In late November 2019, an interview with Johnson on The Ellen DeGeneres show went viral for an awkward reason.

During the interview, Johnson bristled as DeGeneres jokingly questioned why she hadn’t been invited to the star’s recent birthday party.

“Actually, no, that’s not the truth, Ellen, you were invited,” she said. “No, last time I was on the show, last year, you gave me a bunch of s*** about not inviting you, but I didn’t even know you wanted to be invited.

“But [this year] I did invite you, and you didn’t come.” (You can watch it unfold in the first 40 seconds of this video below.)

A back and forth followed in which Johnson’s producers confirmed the invite, prompting DeGeneres to say that she was “out of town” on the day.

What should have been little more than an uncomfortable TV moment, snowballed when it was revealed where the host was that weekend. In Texas, at a football game, sitting and laughing alongside former US president and staunch conservative Republican George W. Bush.

Ah, imagine being so famous you forget which A-list parties you've been invited to.

Feature image: Getty.

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