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

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. She kept her eyes on the prize, and her father still believes she is a better actor today than her.

“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 started dating when Griffith was 15 years old. In Laurel Canyon, they moved in together. On Griffith’s 18th Birthday, they were engaged. This romance culminated in a six month marriage that lasted from January 1976 to July 1976. They split in November 1989.

Source: Getty Images Theirs could easily be considered a union made in heaven because 13 years after splitting, they reunited .| Source: Getty Images

Theirs could easily be considered a union made in heaven because 13 years after splitting, they reunited. They did not intend to marry, but they soon discovered they were expecting their first child together.

Although Griffith had expressed her desire to have Johnson’s babies from childhood, the unexpected pregnancy was shocking. 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

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.”


Growing up with movie stars for parents may seem appealing, but Dakota struggled a lot. Because she spent the majority of her childhood on TV and movie sets, she recalls it as unusual.

Dakota Johnson and Don Johnson, during the “Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone” Los Angeles Premiere at Mann Village Theatre Westwood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Her parents would stay on location for months, and Dakota would tag along, tutors and nannies in tow. Because of her parents’ demanding careers she had to change schools several times.

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.

Source: Getty Images. Dakota was seven when her parents divorced. It was hard for young Dakota.| Source: Getty Images

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.

She became obsessed with John Cassavetes, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Bernardo Bertolucci later. Up until she got to the age 16, Dakota studied ballet. But, her true passion was always in film. She was raised in a family of entertainers and acting seemed like the ideal career path. 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.”


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. Dakota was 16 when she completed high school. It wasn’t an option for her to go to college, as she struggled with learning.

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.

Dakota didn’t care. Her dad approached Dakota towards the end of high school to ask her about colleges she was interested in, but Dakota replied that she would not be attending college.

Source: YouTube/ Vanity Fair Taken aback, Johnson asked her if she remembered she would be off the family money if she did not attend college.| Source: YouTube/ Vanity Fair

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.”


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.”

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.

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.”

Griffith is proud to be a parent and she supported her daughter’s work by being her date during 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

Johnson agrees with his ex-wife and claims he never watched the film. Johnson did not take it personally. His adamant refusal to see the movie was based entirely on the nature of the film. He told People:

“I would never see that. Even if she was in it, I wouldn’t be able to see it. It’s not for me.”

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

“As a father there are some images you don’t need in the head. I know it’s just pretend-and-make-believe, but, you know?” He continued. He continues to support her in all her films.


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

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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here