Dakota Johnson portrays the late Nicole Teague in the new film “Our Friend,” which is adapted from the Esquire article by her husband Matthew Teague about her fight with cancer in the last years of her life. In her exclusive interview with Gold Derby (watch the video above), Johnson explains about what message they wanted to send with the film, “It became important that the gruesome side of life is there always, but that is not the thing that drives you forward or helps you move through. It’s love and compassion and it helps you to look at the gruesome things and acknowledge that they’re there and deal with them and then also see the beauty and the laughter and the levity.”
It has been two years since the film shot in Alabama; Johnson started doing press for the film a year and a half ago when it premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival before it had a distributor. She admits about the timeline of a press tour for any film, “It’s so hard for me to be objective and it’s so hard for me to even watch the movies that I’m in and because so much times passes from when you make the film and it comes out, I’m like a completely different person and I have an entirely different life.”
Johnson continues, “It all feels like a retrospective and I’m sure that I felt completely differently making the movie than I do when I actually start to talk about it.” Acknowledging how “lovely” and “nice” it is to talk about her work through genuinely “interesting” conversations, yet also noting that she repeatedly gets “asked the same questions,” Johnson says ultimately, “I don’t know how I feel about it. It’s so weird.”
“It’s not really something that I’ve totally done on purpose,” admits Johnson about the unprecedented frequency that she is working under female directors in recent years. She notes with reference to unannounced projects, “That’ll be six in a row!” She closes, “I don’t know what to say about it, other than why not?” In addition to star, some of these projects have Johnson on board as a producer through TeaTime Pictures.
“I really love creating a safe space — a hub for creativity,” says Johnson about what inspired her to co-found the production company a year and a half ago. She continues, “I’ve found that sometimes in this industry, you’re up against people who run shows or studios or sets in a really antiquated way and their mindset about working environments or any kind of inequality or disparity — it just doesn’t work for me and I want to work with great people, I want to make great things and I want to have a really good time and I want everyone to be on the same team and that’s not always the case on movie sets.”
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