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3rd-generation actress stars in sitcom

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‘Ben and Kate'

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By Donna Freydkin
Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, 9:00 p.m.
 

Don't mess with Dakota Johnson. The daughter of actors Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, and granddaughter of Hitchcock siren Tippi Hedren, knows her way around a firearm. And, she always hits her target. “It's a really cool thing,” says Johnson of her hobby. Professionally, she's also pulling the trigger on being a full-time actress: Johnson is headlining the Fox sitcom “Ben and Kate” on Tuesdays. And like the seasoned pro she is, Johnson, 22, quickly deflects any questions about her folks. “I get asked about my parents a lot, which is not what I'm doing press for,” she says. Point taken.

Question: What about Kate made you want to play her?

Answer: I love the way she's written. It was the family vibe of it, and the fact that it wasn't a romantic relationship. It's a brother and a sister. Kate has a daughter and she'd do anything for her daughter. Kate is really smart and scared and funny — there's a lot going on.

Q: Did you base Kate's relationship with her daughter on anyone specific?

A: No. It's a really unique relationship. I'm not a mom. I'm playing older than myself in the show. I have a maternal side to me, but I would never know what it's like to be a mom until I am one.

Q: You seem much more balanced and focused than Kate. Are you as romantically challenged as she is?

A: I'm so different from her. There's times Kate can be very fragile and I can relate to that, and there's times when she's really strong and I can relate to that. She's a little awkward and goofy, and that's a little bit of me. I'm more of a person who goes with the flow of things. I have a boyfriend that I've been with for a while. I've only been in long-term relationships. I've never really dated.

Q: Being an actor seems like the obvious choice for you. When did you realize it's what you wanted to do?

A: This is my passion. This is my job. I love it more than anything. I'm so happy when I'm working. I love doing improv. I love comedy. I have always felt this way, even when I was really young. I'd watch my parents work and think, yeah, I'm going to do that. It wasn't even a thing. It's the only thing I know how to do.

Q: I have to say, it's really cute how your mom is promoting your show all over Twitter.

A: I know. I know. She's amazing on Twitter. I'm not on Twitter — yet. I envy her ability to say things to the world. I can't do that. It's so bizarre and crazy that the entire world can be privy to this information. Why would anything I say be interesting to anyone else?

Q: Could you see yourself doing a project with your parents or your grandmother?

A: I would like to do that. I'd love to work with a lot of people and a lot of my family members: my mom, my grandma, my dad. It's cool. It's my family. (Hedren) is amazing. She's my favorite woman in the world.

Q: How are you handling the crazy hours of doing TV?

A: I sleep a lot now. I'm tired all the time. I love eating. I shoot shotguns. I go skeet-shooting. I don't shoot actual animals. I shoot sporting clays. For some reason, I started doing it last summer, and I'm really good at it, so I just keep going. I like to read a lot. But it's hard to read books when you're working.

Donna Freydkin is a staff writer for USA Today.

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