Dakota Johnson & Geoff Stults (Ben & Kate)

Dakota Johnson & Geoff Stults: The Interview (Ben & Kate)

Dakota Johnson is the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, and the step-daughter of Antonio Banderas

Shakefire.com recently had the opportunity to participate in a conference call hosted by Fox with “Ben & Kate” series star Dakota Johnson and guest star Geoff Stults.  Although this is Dakota’s first television role, viewers will probably recognize her from small roles in hit films like “The Five Year Engagement,” “21 Jump Street,” and “The Social Network.”  Geoff is a television veteran spending several years as a regular on “7th Heaven” and also starring in “The Finder.” 

Premiering this fall, “Ben & Kate” has been a critical success in Fox’s Tuesday night comedy lineup.  The series revolves around young single mother Kate (Dakota Johnson) attempting to raise her daughter Maddie (played by the scene-stealing Maggie Elizabeth Jones) while working as a bar manager.  Kate’s quirky unemployed brother Ben (Nat Faxon) decides to move into her garage to help raise Maddie and work on his proposed salad delivery business among other interesting ideas.  In the latest installment of the series, Kate met her neighbor Will (Geoff Stults) which serves as the beginning of a multi-episode storyline arc for the program.  Both Dakota & Geoff were kind enough to take time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions.

:  I was wondering if I could get both of your thoughts on working with Maggie Elizabeth Jones (Maddie)?
DAKOTA JOHNSON:  Yes, she is so talented and wise beyond her years and so incredibly intelligent and quick that it kind of freaks me out a little bit.  She does not miss anything.  She understands everything and is really good at her job.  Last week we were working on an episode where there were nine seven-year-old children, and everyone, I think, started to appreciate Maggie even more, because it was very hectic and difficult.  Also, working with children can be really funny and fun just because kids are really funny.  I can’t even say better things about her.  She’s funny and she’s so smart.  I love her so much.  I’m like waxing poetic about this child.  I love her so much.  She also has started to, sort of, become so comfortable with us and the crew that she’ll try new things and she’ll improv and she’ll say things a different way instead of just the way that she’s read the script and knows how to say them.  Sometimes you’ll see children act and they say things a certain way every time, and it works completely, and that’s how they work.  She started to get really creative, and I think that that’s so special and awesome.  I think we got really lucky to have her.
GEOFF STULTS:  Oh, you for sure got lucky.  The one thing about her that blows my mind, all the things that Dakota just said, she’s hyper-smart.  She gets irony, she understands everything that’s going on around her to the point where you think that this isn’t even a little girl, but then she also embraces life being a little girl.  She embraces having fun.  She’s not trying to be a grown-up.  She really takes her job seriously; I know it’s kind of weird to say that about a little girl, but she does.  She works hard on it.  She wants to do well, but she’s not like a little robot either.  She’s still a little girl who’s having fun.  She still has moments where she misses her friends back home in Atlanta.  She’s so good at what she does that you often forget that she is still a little girl.  I’ve been around, back on the days that I was on 7th Heaven and there were kids all over the place—             
DJ:  Oh my god, Geoff, you were on 7th Heaven, I didn’t know that.  Geoff, that’s amazing!  Congratulations. 
GS:  I think it was before you were born.  So I’ve seen a lot of kid actors and she blows them all away.  When you guys got Maggie, you guys got very lucky.  I always attribute that back to the parents.  The parents are great people, and they get that this is a wonderful job and a wonderful opportunity, but they try hard to really protect her.  Also, they do their best to keep her a little kid when she’s not working. 

SF:  Do you guys watch the episodes as they air on television, or is that something you maybe do at a much later date?
DJ:  Normally I’m working when the episodes air so I don’t get to see them.  I do have them on the DVR at home.  I do watch them.  I watch them when people say, “Oh, that episode was so funny, and I loved it” because it’s weird for me that—well, you know what?  I’ve actually watched most of them.  It’s gotten less weird for me to see myself.  I used to be really, really freaked out over watching myself, and I would have an existential crisis and be incredibly self-deprecating.  Now, it’s become more of a thing of this is my job, and if I watch myself I can see what works and what doesn’t and what’s funny and where certain things happen.  I started to, sort of, use it to my advantage.

Be sure to catch “Ben and Kate” airing on FOX Tuesday nights at 8:30 P.M. ET!

Cody Endres
Interview by Cody Endres
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