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Seems Like Dakota Johnson Kinda Hates Madame Web

The SAG-AFTRA strike this summer was huge and important and powerful, but there was one thing we kind of missed during those long, quiet months: deeply unhinged press tours. Luckily, the actors have really delivered on this front in the time they’ve been back. Hugh Grant compared his oompa-loompa mocap suit for Wonka to a “crown of thorns.” Reneé Rapp cussed out a random, misogynist bus company owner! It’s been awesome. But no one has fed the people quite like Dakota Johnson while promoting her upcoming Madame Web, a movie she seems to simply despise. Please, join us on this journey.

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Yesterday, a clip emerged from an interview Johnson did with Huffington Post, in which the poor interviewer tries (and fails) to go toe to toe with the woman who ended Ellen’s career. He never stood a chance. In a stark reminder that there’s a whole world of difference between posters and the people they post about, the interviewer asks Johnson about the Madame Web trailer’s most memed line: “He was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders right before she died.” Johnson, blank-faced, responds, “Why did that go viral? Isn’t any sentence out of context, out of context?” The two go back and forth a little while longer, with Johnson ultimately dubbing the whole thing “silly.” It’s like she’d rather be getting a root canal than talking about people engaging with this movie. It’s hard to look away.

Out of context, the above interaction could be read as Johnson simply not understanding meme culture, which is totally fair. She doesn’t have to! But her past appearances have implied that she doesn’t really understand Madame Web either.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Johnson shared that this was her first time working with a blue screen, an experienced she called “absolutely psychotic.” (“There’s fake explosions going off, and someone’s going, ‘Explosion!’ and you act like there’s an explosion.”) “I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is going to be good at all! I hope that I did an okay job!’” she continued. In her Saturday Night Live monologue a few days later, she also called the film “kind of like if AI generated your boyfriend’s perfect movie.” Not an indictment in the context of the monologue, but not exactly a ringing endorsement, either.

Then again, it seems like Johnson is just really fed up with Hollywood in general, whether that feeling stemmed from this experience or not. “I am discovering that it’s really fucking bleak in this industry. It is majorly disheartening,” she said in a recent interview with L’Officiel (via IndieWire). “People are just so afraid, and I’m like, why? What’s going to happen if you do something brave? It just feels like nobody knows what to do and everyone’s afraid. That’s what it feels like. Everyone who makes decisions is afraid. They want to do the safe thing, and the safe thing is really boring.”

It’s unclear whether Madame Web is the specific “safe thing” Johnson is alluding to here or if she’s just experiencing a sense of general malaise, but someone really jazzed about their upcoming big, great movie probably wouldn’t be this bitter while trying to get people to actually see it. Unfortunately for Dakota, her frustration is just so damn entertaining. You can see for yourself whether Madame Web lives up to the hype (or lack thereof) when it hits theaters February 14.

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