Johnson, the daughter of actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, plays Anastasia Steele, a naive young woman who finds herself ensnared in the dark sexual world of Christian Grey, a successful businessman with a penchant for bondage and domination. The film is based on the book trilogy by E.L. James that took the publishing world by storm.
Fans of the book are eager for the Valentine's weekend release.
The story is not without its detractors, some of whom have criticized the relationship between Christian and Anastasia as abusive and not true to the BSDM community.
Johnson addressed the criticism, calling Anastasia a positive example of a woman exploring her sexuality. Still, Dornan told Glamour he felt protective of Johnson, who was placed in vulnerable situations during filming.
Director Sam Taylor-Johnson also explained why Johnson is perfect for the role.
"50 Shades of Grey" will be released on February 13. The March issue of Glamour hits newsstands February 10 and is available online now.
Excerpts from the interview are below:
On chasing the hottest roles in Hollywood ...
DAKOTA JOHNSON: I had read the books and was drawn to the character of Ana because she's private, loving, honest -- and because she and Christian are both incredibly intelligent, confident, and can spar with each other on every level. I auditioned for two months. I met with Sam a bunch of times. So when I found out I had the part, I think I started crying. I was relieved the not-knowing was over.
SAM TAYLOR-JOHNSON: Dakota was everything that I wanted in Anastasia. She has a strong sense of who she is, but at the same time there's a sweetness about her. It was tough to find Christian because, on the page, he's perfect. In real life there aren't so many people that tick all those boxes: to be able to be charismatic and charming, successful, wealthy, and devastatingly handsome.
JAMIE DORNAN: At first, I didn't audition. I made a tape in London with a casting director. I didn't hear anything until they cast Charlie (Hunnam). I thought it was kind of funny to say that I'd auditioned to play Christian and failed miserably. Then whatever happened with (Hunnam) happened, and the doors opened again.
On becoming Anastasia and Christian ...
JAMIE: I had to do a lot of work to get in shape because Christian's someone who's very anal about that. But it wasn't six hours a day. You don't want to turn to your heavily pregnant wife and say, "I'm going to the gym for six hours. Text me if you go into labor."
DAKOTA: Jamie and I actually shared a trainer. It was important to me that Ana's body look like that of an active college student. And I was going be naked, so I wanted to look good. I did a lot of working out and had more waxing than any woman should have!
JAMIE: In that six weeks before filming, my daughter was born. It was just an insane time. For research, one rainy Tuesday evening, I kissed the wife and baby good night and went to watch a dominant-submissive session in a dungeon. The dominant was our sort of adviser on the job. He'd be on hand anytime there was a scene in the Red Room (Christian's playroom for bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism), to say, "You're doing that wrong." So I watched him do his thing. ... It was quite jovial, a very different approach to how I saw Christian being in the Red Room. I think Christian takes it a bit more seriously.
DAKOTA: I didn't go to the sex dungeon. I wanted to keep myself distanced from it at first because I wanted Ana's reaction to certain things to be completely honest and real, like new. But I did do a lot of reading about the culture of BDSM. It's about the ebb and flow of control between two people. To me, there's something really honest in wanting to completely give up control for just a second.
On entering the Red Room ...
DAKOTA: The scenes in that room were definitely the most vulnerable scenes in the movie. But it was a very closed set -- my mom told me that it's my right to ask for that during intimate scenes, so it seemed like (Jamie and Sam and I) were in this little world together.
JAMIE: Some of the Red Room stuff was uncomfortable. There were times when Dakota was not wearing much, and I had to do stuff to her that I'd never choose to do to a woman.
DAKOTA: It's stressful enough to be tied to a bed naked in a scene. But then they call cut, and you're still tied to the bed, naked. Jamie would be the first one to throw a blanket over me.
JAMIE: I felt very protective and aware that it probably wasn't easy for her to be put in those situations, and exposed. And Sam, as a director, has an amazing quality of making everyone feel very relaxed.
SAM: We left anything that was emotionally difficult or of a sexual nature until the last few weeks of filming. By that point we had time to get to know each other, to build that trust, which was important to be able to go into the next realm. Those days on set were calm, but you could definitely feel tension.
On fans, haters and the countdown to megastardom ...
JAMIE: I (already) get, "Oh my God, you're Christian Grey!" (out in public). And I say, "No, I'm Jamie! I'm an actor." When the film comes out, there will probably be more of that. I don't think you can prepare for that. You can't put up sandbags, get rations in. I just live my life. I've had the same friends since I was a small boy. None of them do what I do or, frankly, give a sh*t about what I do. We just love each other. The one thing I take comfort in is that none of that is going anywhere, no matter what the perception of me is or what happens in my career.
DAKOTA: I'm proud of (the movie). I completely disagree with people who think Ana's weak. I think she's actually stronger than he is. Everything she does is her choice. And if I can be an advocate for women to do what they want with their bodies and not be ashamed of what they want, then I'm all for that. My mom came up for a day [during filming]. She's proud of me. But I don't want my family to see [the movie], because it's inappropriate. Or my brothers' friends, who I grew up with. I think they'd be like, Blegh (mimics vomiting). Also there's part of me that's like, I don't want anyone to see this movie. Just kidding.
On their turn-ons ...
JAMIE: I've got a thing for great hands. My wife (Amelia Warner) has my favorite hands in the world. Being from Northern Ireland, I'm programmed to enjoy stories, so I find it sexy if a woman can tell a funny story. And I've always found attractive talking to someone who's achieved something that I couldn't.
DAKOTA: Like Jamie, I like good hands. Manly hands. I grew up in Colorado, and there are manly men there, so manliness is attractive to me. I think it's unsexy when a man chews with his mouth open or when a man is rude or wears fedoras.
I hate fedoras. Oh God, I can find more things I hate about men than I like. I think it's just a phase!