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Dakota Johnson never worried about her body making 'The Lost Daughter'

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Dakota Johnson never worried about her body making 'The Lost Daughter'
Dakota Johnson discusses the making of "The Lost Daughter." Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Dakota Johnson, who stars in The Lost Daughter, out in December, said writer/director Maggie Gyllenhaal saved her from fretting about her appearance.

"A lot of the movie takes place on the beach and I never worried about what my body looked like," Johnson said on an AFI Fest panel on Indie Contenders. "None of the women did. That was [expletive] cool."

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32-year-old Johnson compared the experience to the Fifty Shades films. Johnson appeared nude on screen in the erotic dramas, which she said felt far less comfortable.

"I made a big naked trilogy and that was a thing every day," Johnson said. "It was constantly protecting myself, never ever feeling protected."

Gyllenhaal adapted Elena Ferrante's novel about two different mothers who meet on their beach vacations. Olivia Colman plays Leda, a woman whose daughters recently moved in with their father, and Johnson plays Nina, a young mother.

The film reveals secrets in Leda's past, while Nina is up front about struggling with motherhood. Johnson said The Lost Daughter shows common feelings women and mothers express that rarely find voice in film.

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"I guess it's less of escapism and more of a slap in the face," Johnson said. "It's more reality."

Johnson said Gyllenhaal, making her feature film directorial debut after COVID-19 pandemic short film, allowed the actors to explore extreme feelings. Johnson said Gyllenhaal's experience as an actor gave them a shared language.

"You can be doing a sex scene at six o'clock in the morning and then at noon you're at some family dinner or a funeral," Johnson said. "She really gets that. I never worried about being stupid and I never worried about not being seen."

The Lost Daughter premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September. At festival screenings, including Telluride, Zurich and BFI London, Johnson said women approached Gyllenhaal to share how much they related to the film.

"A lot of women are thanking her," Johnson said. "Maybe [these are] not thoughts and feelings that are widely accepted, but everyone has them."

Johnson said that Nina struggles with the demands of her young daughter and feels trapped by motherhood.

"She will never ever be seen as a real human with a mind and a heart," Johnson said. "It's horrible but that's also so real for so many people."

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The Lost Daughter opens in theaters Dec. 17 and premieres on Netflix Dec. 31.

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