Dakota Johnson’s Parents: All About Her Famous Mom & Dad

The ‘Madame Web’ actress recently weighed in about the ‘nepo baby’ argument when it comes to her famous parents.

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Melanie Griffith, Dakota Johnson and Don Johnson
View gallery
Image Credit: Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic

Dakota Johnson is so over the whole “nepo baby” argument. Although she’s the daughter of the highly successful Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, the Madame Web star paved her own path in the industry. Over the past few years of her acting career, Dakota has opened up about her parents’ lives, their past marriage and more about their family. Don and Melanie had an on-and-off relationship from 1976 until 1996 when they called it quits for good. 

Learn more about Melanie and Don below! 

Don Johnson 

The Hollywood Walk of Fame member is famous for his role in Miami Vice in addition to the films Machete, Django Unchained and Knives Out. The actor is a veteran in the industry but is also a talented producer and singer, having released the albums Heartbeat and Let It Roll. 

While he shares Dakota with his ex wife Melanie, he is also a dad to his kids, Jesse Wayne Johnson, Atherton Grace Johnson, Jasper Breckinridge Johnson and Deacon James Johnson, all of whom he shares with his current wife, Kelley Phlegler. 

As a dad to several children, Don has opened up about his parenting style, which Dakota has acknowledged. Since the Fifty Shades trilogy star was the only one who went on to be a famous actress, Don explained during a 2021 interview on Late Night With Seth Meyers that he did not help Dakota whatsoever in funding her acting career. 

“We have a rule in the family that if you stay in school, you get to stay on the payroll,” Don pointed out. “And towards the end of high school, I went to her and I said, ‘Um, so, do you want to go visit some colleges or something like that?’ And she went, ‘Oh, no, I’m not going to college.’ And I went, ‘OK. Well, you know what that means. I mean, you won’t be on the payroll anymore, and how are you gonna manage?’ And she says, ‘Don’t you worry about it.’” 

Melanie Griffith, Dakota Johnson and Don Johnson
Krista Kennell/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images)

During a subsequent interview on TODAY in 2024, Dakota nodded to her dad’s “payroll” parenting idea and stated that Don “cut [her] off” the moment she revealed she wanted to break into film. 

“He said if you go to college, you still get an allowance,” she noted. “And I was like, ‘Well, I’m going to be an actress.’ So he was like, ‘Alright, well you’re on your own. I was cut off. I definitely like had moments where I couldn’t afford groceries and things like that and needed to ask my mom to help me. She was the nice one.”

Despite his strict parenting method, Don has remained close with Dakota and has attended the premieres of her films. Nevertheless, neither he nor Melanie has watched the Fifty Shades franchise. 

“I would never see that,” the Nash Bridges alum told PEOPLE in 2018. “I wouldn’t see that even if she wasn’t in it. It’s not my kind of thing. As a father, there are certain images that you don’t need in your head. I know it’s just, pretend and make believe, but, you know?”

During the same interview, Don recalled Dakota’s revelation to him that she was skipping college and going to be an actress, to which he replied, “Well, that’s very interesting because I’ve never seen you take an acting class. I’ve never seen you do a play. … “Little did I know, Dakota was in the background watching mom and dad all those years. She was learning her craft. And I’ll be damned if she didn’t learn it, maybe even better than mom and dad. She’s extraordinary.” 

Melanie Griffith 

Melanie is a Golden Globe Award winner and has starred in hit movies such as Pacific Heights and Mulholland Falls, and landed minor co-starring roles on television, including in her ex-husband’s show Miami Vice. She began her career as a child model. As the daughter of famous actress Tippi Hedren, Melanie got her start in the acting industry by watching her mom. Melanie even co-starred with Tippi in Roar.

Dakota gave fans insight into her mother and grandmother’s prolific careers during her 2022 interview with Vanity Fair. In it, the How to Be Single star pointed out that Alfred Hitchcock derailed Tippi’s career after she worked with him on his infamous horror The Birds. While he educated Tippi on the fundamentals of acting, Dakota pointed out that Alfred made unwanted sexual advances on her grandmother.

“What happened with my grandmother was horrific because Hitchcock was a tyrant,”Dakota said. “He was talented and prolific — and important in terms of art — but power can poison people.”