Dakota Johnson is Hollywood royalty; famous faces appear all over her family tree. With Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson as parents and Tippi Hedren as a grandmother, it’s no surprise she decided to take up acting. They aren’t the only celebrities Johnson is connected to, though. Did you know Antonio Banderas is her former stepfather?
Banderas Was Johnson’s Stepfather From 1996 To 2015
After her second and final split with Don Johnson, Griffith starred in Two Much alongside Banderas. Sparks flew between the pair and as soon as both of their respective divorces were finalized, they wed in 1996.
Banderas became stepfather to Griffith’s children from her two previous marriages, Dakota Johnson and Alexander Bauer. He soon forged a connection with the kids, complete with nicknames. “Dakota called me Paponio, which is a mixture between papa, which is ‘daddy’ in Spanish, and Antonio. I am her Antonio papa, so Paponio,” Banderas explained in a 2019 interview.
Speaking about the beginning of his relationship with his stepchildren, Banderas said, “It was hard because the kids had to accept me, and I was totally inexperienced. But as soon as the kids knew that I was there to stay, they were fine. They needed solid ground in which they could grow. As soon as I realized that, I started establishing my relationship, giving them security, little by little doing the father thing.”
Part of “doing the father thing” in Hollywood means walking red carpets. Johnson attended the Academy Awards with Banderas and her mother in 2000, giving her a taste of the fame that was about to come.
Johnson Still Considers Banderas Her ‘Bonus Dad’
Banderas and Griffith split in 2015, but the family is still close. Banderas loves cheering on his step-daughter, telling Vulture, “I’m so proud of her. I saw her the other day in Toronto, and she looks—as I said in the social networks when I put a picture of her and myself, I put there, ‘My radiant Dakota.’”
Even though Banderas and her mother are no longer together, Johnson and the actor are still extremely close. For proof, look no further than her touching tribute to Banderas when he won the Hollywood Actor Award.
“I come from a family of many a marriage and I got very lucky,” Johnson shared. “I got a bonus dad who I realized that, over time, is actually one of the most influential people in my whole life. When I was six years old, my mother married a man who brought an unbelievably bright light, a whole new world of creativity and culture and one remarkably magical little sister into our family.”
She continued, “My stepfather … Antonio Banderas burst into our lives. He was so vibrant and so fun and so funny and his English was abstract and we found it absolutely amazing. He loved my mother, and my siblings and I so big, and so fiercely and so loud, that it would change all of our lives together.”
Banderas, who called his stepdaughter’s emotional speech “a total surprise,” shared Johnson’s strong feelings about their family. “[Johnson’s speech] was a confirmation that all of those years that Melanie and I spent together, they were years that was not only just about Melanie and me, they were about the family,” Banderas explained. “They were worth it all.”
Banderas Is A Proud Supporter Of Johnson’s Acting Career
Johnson even has Banderas to thank for her first acting job. He got her a role in his 1999 directorial debut Crazy in Alabama, where she played one of the main character’s daughters. He also gushed about her abilities in the run-up to the premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey.
“I think she’s going to have a fantastic career because actually she can play many different turfs,” Banderas said. “She’s a great comedy actress, she showed that when she did this television show Ben & Kate. And then she’s a very good dramatic actress too as she’s showing in the other movie. This is a great opportunity for her and I know that she’s going to take it.”
When asked about Johnson’s career a few years later, Banderas was just as complimentary, saying, “I met her when she was five years old! I followed every single step of [her career].” Banderas and Griffith might not be married anymore, but it’s clear that he and Johnson are as close as ever.