I interviewed Don Johnson yesterday for BBC Radio 4′s Front Row programme about his new film Cold In July. Two things that stood out — the way he deploys a disarming exaggerated twang to the end of phrases and words on screen and in conversation: “previous address unknooon.” And the down to earth, even detached attitude to the business.
It was an interesting meander around playing the ultimate male fantasy role, Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice, the “ten days of sheer terror” when he started playing Nathan Detroit in Guys n’ Dolls on the London stage (“Oh God, I’ve made a horrible mistake”) and being a cult figure to Quentin Tarantino who remembers films that Johnson can’t even remember making. Johnson said it was “to do with a certain persona that men identify with in me. And there’s some men you can watch on the screen and they’re not threatening to you. They just embody all the things that either you want to be or are trying to be. It’s just an energy.”
We also talked about how he feels about his daughter, Dakota playing the lead in the film of Fifty Shades of Gray. He had an interestingly choice of words on that about actors just playing characters: “Sometimes they’re slavers and sometimes they are the slaves”. The interview also covers the issue of women’s roles in Hollywood as highlighted by the fact that the only female parts in Cold in July are abused hookers and a scared wife.
Lost in the edit was when I asked about discussing career choices with fellow dude’s dude co-star Sam Shepard. There aren’t many rom coms in Don Johnson’s IMDB listing. Would he have liked to have been in Steel Magnolias? (Shepard played Dolly Parton’s husband). Don Johnson laughs and deploys that twang. “Noooooo, Too much oeeeeestrogen.”
Incidentally I also liked the way he said Fuck, YEAH” with relish as he took his first sip of black coffee. But that wasn’t going to get on air right after The Archers either.
You can listen again here for more than a year.