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Don Johnson Cut Daughter off & Did Not Let Her Act after She Refused to Go to College

Esther NJeri
Jul 11, 2022
01:00 A.M.
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Dakota Johnson had a rough childhood, and could barely afford groceries after her father, Don Johnson, cut her off financially for refusing to go to college. However, she kept her eye on the prize and, today, her father thinks she is a better actor than him.

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"Pacific Heights" actress Melanie Griffith was only 14 when she met "Django Unchained" actor Don Johnson. Their paths crossed on "The Harrad Experiment" set, in which Johnson co-starred alongside Griffith's mother, Tippi Hedren. Johnson was 22.

They began dating, and when Griffith was only 15, they started living together in a rented house in Laurel Canyon. They became engaged on Griffith's 18th birthday, a romance culminating in a six-month marriage from January to July 1976. They divorced that November.

Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson at the 61st Annual Academy Awards on March 29, 1989 | Source: Getty Images

Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson at the 61st Annual Academy Awards on March 29, 1989 | Source: Getty Images

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Theirs could easily be considered a union made in heaven because 13 years after splitting, they reunited. While they did not plan on marrying right away, they soon found out they were pregnant with their first baby together.

Even though Griffith had always expressed her desire to carry Johnson's babies, the pregnancy was unexpected. Once Johnson received the news on the "Miami Vice" set, he remained mushy-faced and could not hold his joy. Johnson told Hedren:

"This is God's plan."

Actor Don Johnson leaves the Newsroom restaurant after having lunch with his daughter Dakota from his marriage to Melanie Griffith March 30, 2002 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images

Actor Don Johnson leaves the Newsroom restaurant after having lunch with his daughter Dakota from his marriage to Melanie Griffith March 30, 2002 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images

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They welcomed their baby girl Dakota Mayi Johnson on October 4, 1989, at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas. At the time of her birth, Johnson was in Texas filming "The Hot Spot."

DAKOTA'S UNCONVENTIONAL CHILDHOOD

Growing up with movie stars for parents may seem appealing, but Dakota struggled a lot. She recalls her childhood as unconventional, as she spent most of it on movie and TV show sets.

Dakota Johnson and Don Johnson during 'Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone' Los Angeles Premiere at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States.  | Source: Getty Images

Dakota Johnson and Don Johnson during 'Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone' Los Angeles Premiere at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. | Source: Getty Images

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Her parents would stay on location for months, and Dakota would tag along, tutors and nannies in tow. Due to her parents' demanding careers, she changed schools so often that she lost count of how many she attended.

She mourns lost childhood friendships but what appeared odd was how she started therapy at three years old. "I was a disaster, and I thought for so long that there was something wrong with my brain. Now I realize that it just works in a different way." She says.

Actress Dakota Johnson on August 5 2003 | Source: Getty Images

Actress Dakota Johnson on August 5 2003 | Source: Getty Images

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Her parents divorced a second time when she was seven, which was hard on young Dakota. She found an escape in film and would watch "Beetlejuice," "Home Alone," and "Mary Poppins" over and over again.

Later, she obsessed over Bernardo Bertolucci and John Cassavetes. Up until she got to the age 16, Dakota studied ballet. However, she always knew her heart was in films. After all, she came from a lineage of entertainers, and acting seemed like the perfect career path for her. She recalls:

"I thought, this is just what my family does. It's like, my dad's a lawyer, so I'm a lawyer. Except that it doesn't usually work that way."

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DAKOTA CHOSE ACTING OVER ATTENDING COLLEGE

Dakota Johnson arrives at the Prada Presents Trembled Blossoms LA on March 19, 2008, at Prada Beverly Hills Epicenter in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images

Dakota Johnson arrives at the Prada Presents Trembled Blossoms LA on March 19, 2008, at Prada Beverly Hills Epicenter in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images

At an early age, Dakota discovered that she could become an actor like her parents. When she turned 16 and completed school, she did not consider going to college a possibility, and it did not help that she had always had trouble with learning.

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During an interview on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," Johnson shared how all his children were on the payroll and were required to stay in school if they were to remain on the family's salary. Dakota did not care.

Towards the end of high school, her dad approached her, asking what colleges she was considering, but Dakota curtly said she wouldn't be going to college.

A screenshot from Dakota Johnson's interview with Vanity Fair | Source: YouTube/ Vanity Fair

A screenshot from Dakota Johnson's interview with Vanity Fair | Source: YouTube/ Vanity Fair

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Taken aback, Johnson asked her if she remembered she would be off the family money if she did not attend college. He wondered how she would manage without financial help from her dad, and Dakota, unbothered, answered:

"Don't you worry about it!"

Being cut off was more challenging than Dakota had anticipated. She recalled: "I remember one time having like 47 dollars in my bank account and not being able to buy groceries like... you know my card declined and things like that. And just being like, 'Is this really what I want?'. But it was really what I wanted."

DAKOTA SOON GOT BACK ON HER FEET

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A screenshot from Dakota Johnson's first movie role on "The Social Network" where she played Amelia Ritter | Source: YouTube/Vanity Fair

A screenshot from Dakota Johnson's first movie role on "The Social Network" where she played Amelia Ritter | Source: YouTube/Vanity Fair

Despite her dad cutting her off and Dakota sometimes struggling to buy groceries, she did not stay down long. Three weeks after her talk with her dad, she landed her first role in David Fincher's "The Social Network."

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She shared how nervous she had been playing Amelia Ritter — a young student from Stanford University — who sleeps with Sean Parker, played by singer Justin Timberlake, one night after meeting him at a bar.

From there, she began landing more roles, including a small part as Fugazy on "21 Jump Street," Audrey in "The Five-Year Engagement," and Em in "Date and Switch.

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Even with film roles coming at her from all directions, Dakota's most significant one remains her part as Anastasia Steele in the erotic drama "Fifty Shades of Grey."

Like any proud parent, Griffith loves her daughter's work and supported her by being her date during the 2015 Oscars. However, despite her unending support for her daughter, Griffith shared that she never watched "Fifty Shades of Grey" as it would be strange.

Model/actress Dakota Johnson and actress Melanie Griffith attend "Don Jon" New York Premiere at SVA Theater on September 12, 2013 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Model/actress Dakota Johnson and actress Melanie Griffith attend "Don Jon" New York Premiere at SVA Theater on September 12, 2013 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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Johnson shares his ex-wife's sentiments and says he never got around to watching the film. However, it was nothing personal against his daughter. His adamant refusal to see the movie was based entirely on the nature of the film. He told People:

"I would never see that. I wouldn't see that even if she wasn't in it. It's not my kind of thing."

Dakota Johnson attends the UK Premiere of "Fifty Shades Of Grey" at Odeon Leicester Square on February 12, 2015 in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

Dakota Johnson attends the UK Premiere of "Fifty Shades Of Grey" at Odeon Leicester Square on February 12, 2015 in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

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"As a father, there are certain images that you don't need in your head. I know it's just pretend-and-make-believe, but, you know?" He continued. Even so, he loves all her other films and remains supportive of her.

HER FATHER THINKS SHE IS AN EXCELLENT ACTRESS

Despite his decision to cut her off years earlier, Dakota managed to pave a career for herself without her parents' help. Following her appearance in "The Fifty Shades Of Grey," she began landing more significant roles and has not looked back since.

Don Johnson and Dakota Johnson attend The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Hollywood Reporter party at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto on September 07, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. | Source: Getty Images

Don Johnson and Dakota Johnson attend The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Hollywood Reporter party at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto on September 07, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. | Source: Getty Images

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She also got back in her dad's graces; today, he is one of her biggest supporters. He thinks of her as an outstanding actress, perhaps even better than her parents, who've been actors for decades.

Today Dakota is more than just an actress. She has also crossed over into directing with her initial works in the 2021 film "Am I OK?" and the 2022 "Cha Cha Real Smooth," in which she also plays Domino.

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