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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Here’s What Gives Dakota Johnson Hope for the Future of Film

The Big Picture

  • Dakota Johnson sits down with Collider’s Perri Nemiroff to discuss her new Marvel movie,
    Madame Web
  • Johnson highlights how much she enjoyed the stunt driving and her collaboration with Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O’Connor, and Isabela Merced.
  • She also addresses her “bleak” assessment of Hollywood and pinpoints a few movies that give her hope for the future of film.

A quote in which Dakota Johnson dubs Hollywood “bleak” is a mighty hot talking topic right now, and she’s not wrong about her assessment of the state of the industry. But, there is some good out there and during my recent chat with Johnson for her upcoming Marvel movie Madame Web, she took a moment to pinpoint a few bright spots.

Johnson headlines the film as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic working in Manhattan who comes to discover that she has the ability to see the future. One particular thing she sees? Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney), Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced), and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor) are in grave danger. Even though Cassie doesn’t know the young women, she sees the great responsibility in her newfound power and takes it upon herself to protect them at all costs.

During my Madame Web interview with Johnson, she highlighted what she enjoyed most about the Marvel moviemaking process before touching on things that give her hope for the future of film, specific titles she’s worked on herself and also some mighty popular Oscar nominated films that signal it is possible for artists to make what they want in Hollywood. Hear about it all straight from Johnson in the video interview above, or you can read the conversation in transcript form below.

Madame Web Newest Film Poster

Madame Web

Cassandra Webb is a New York City paramedic who starts to show signs of clairvoyance. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she must protect three young women from a mysterious adversary who wants them dead.

Release Date
February 14, 2024

PERRI NEMIROFF: What part of the Marvel moviemaking process were you most looking forward to experiencing, but then I also want to know a part of the process that wound up being more creatively fulfilling than you ever could have imagined at the start?

DAKOTA JOHNSON: I was excited for the action in the movie because it’s not your typical superhero movie where there’s, like, insane fighting. It feels, for Cassie, a little bit more grounded and scrappy, so I was looking forward to that. And then the stunt driving, I was really excited about. And then, weirdly the blue screen work at first was something I had to get used to. There wasn’t very much of it, but I ended up having a really good time because you just kind of let your imagination go nuts and I found it really fun.

Just because I keep hearing about the stunt driving, did you go into that training knowing you had that skill set?

JOHNSON: No. No, I was so excited. I mean, I like driving and I’m okay at it, but when I learned how to do that, it was just like, “Oh, great!”

I like that. I hope for more stunt driving in the future for you because you crushed it in this movie.

Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced & Celeste O’Connor Formed an Inspiring Bond on ‘Madame Web’


Who Is Madame Web, the First Female Superhero in Sony’s Spider-Verse?

Dakota Johnson, this is Marvel. Marvel, meet Dakota.

Not that Sydney, Celeste and Isabela are new to this industry, but I feel like often you’re looking up to the number one on the call sheet, but I always like highlighting the reverse as well. Is there anything about the three of them and their approach to the work that you found refreshing or inspiring?

JOHNSON: I loved how quickly they bonded with each other. It was really fun to have them on set, and just their youth and camaraderie, and they were fun and funny, and it was just nice to get to work with them.

Can you give me an example of a time on set when you saw a co-star go above and beyond to the point that you thought, “I knew you were good, but I didn’t realize you were capable of that?”

JOHNSON: I was pretty impressed with them all the time. They’re really professional. Yeah, every day I just felt proud of them.

I don’t blame you. They’re quite good.

To lean into a theme from the movie that I love — the idea of understanding your past to pave the way to a brighter future — I want to take that idea and turn it towards your career as an actor. Of all of your past films, which one would you credit with putting into focus the types of stories you would value going forward and also the types of on-set environments you would want to be a part of the most ?

JOHNSON: Oh my gosh. I think my experience with Luca Guadagnino has been pretty profound. Working with him a few times, that was really good. And The Peanut Butter Falcon was also a really important experience for me. Those two things I’ve really tried to bring forth aspects of them into my career after.

Both highly rewatched titles.

‘Poor Things’ & ‘Past Lives’ Give Dakota Johnson Hope for Film

Dakota Johnson wearing a paramedic uniform with firefighters blurred in the background in Madame Web
Image via Sony Pictures

I’ll end with this question because obviously I read your quotes about how bleak you find this industry right now. It makes me sad, but they’re valid points to make. Can you name something that either you’ve done recently or you’ve seen someone else do recently in this industry that gives you hope, something that makes you think, “If we have more of that things will get better?”

JOHNSON: I mean, there’s so many films that I love. Poor Things I think is an incredible film, Past Lives is an incredible film. I think the movies that I’ve made recently that are smaller, I think because you don’t have to answer to studio executives you get to have a little bit more creative license and agency. Like Daddio was a really important experience in that way. But I don’t know, it’s possible for artists to make what they want to make, it’s just kind of a hardcore battle right now.

Keep fighting it.

Madame Web hits theaters in the U.S. on February 14th. Click below for showtimes.

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