Dance of horror

Dakota Johnson reveals the strain of filming Suspiria

  • Published 6.09.18
Dakota Johnson and (below)  the actress in a scene from Suspiria  

If Dakota Johnson had to work hard to prepare for the erotic Fifty Shades, it was nothing compared to the physical demands of Suspiria, a horror movie in which much of the fear comes through her ability to dance like a woman possessed.

A remake of the 1970s cult classic, Suspiria is set in a dance school in Berlin where Johnson’s character Susie, a naive young hopeful from the cornfields of Ohio, arrives to find strange powers at work.

The older women at the academy are impressed by her instinctual, violent dancing, and quickly give her the lead role in an upcoming performance — although the viewer suspects they have something more sinister in mind.

“It was amazing to discover that I could do that with my body, but it was a lot of work, it was a lot of training,” Johnson said in Venice, where Suspiria is competing for a Golden Lion.

“I worked for six months before filming. I was filming another movie in Vancouver, the third Fifty Shades movie, and I would go after work or before to train with the trainer.”

The 28-year-old has another horror movie in the works, Bad Times at the El Royale, with Jeff Bridges and Chris Hemsworth.

“I think I went through a little horror phase recently,” Johnson said, before realising that could be mis-heard.

“I said ‘horr-or’ phase, to be clear,” she said, jabbing the air with her finger for emphasis, and adding: “Not ‘whorephase’. Oh God! I don’t know!

“I’m interested in making all kinds of films. I love cinema and I love movies, so I really don’t know what I’ll do next. But the ones coming out are a little, a little ‘different’.”

Johnson has also clarified her remark that she underwent “therapy” after shooting the horror film Suspiria saying she was “not psychoanlaysed”. 

In Elle magazine’s April interview, the actress had said the Luca Guadagnino directorial “f**ked me up so much I had to go to therapy”.

Asked about the procedure, Johnson said she is a “porous person” who gets affected by her surroundings. 

“First of all, I was not psychoanalysed and I hope I never will be. I find sometimes when I work on a project and — I don’t have any shame in this — I’m a very porous person and I absorb a lot of people’s feelings.

“When you’re working sometimes with dark subject matter, it can stay with you and then to talk to somebody really nice about it afterwards is a really nice way to move on from the project,” she said. 

Johnson in Fifty Shades of Grey

“My therapist is a really nice woman.”

The 28-year-old actress  leads the revival of Dario Argento’s classic 1977 horror, which is based in part on Thomas De Quincey’s 1845 essay Suspiria de Profundis.

The film narrates the story of a ballet dancer who goes to an elite dance academy and stumbles upon its dark secrets. 
“It was the most fun and the most exhilarating and the most joyful that it could be. It’s mischievous and play(ful) and I love it more than anything. It wasn’t that this film sent me to a ward, I just have a lot of feelings,” she added. Reuters and PTI