Dakota Johnson and Chris Martin spent time together just before the holidays in Paris. They were seen together at Soho House on the weekend. Then, on Sunday, they were papped in Malibu, strolling down the beach with their arms around each other. Amazingly, even though there were photographers around, Chris did not take off on Dakota and run away, the way he used to when he was married to Gwyneth Paltrow. He was reluctant to be seen with Jennifer Lawrence when they were together too. Chris dated Annabelle Wallis after Jennifer Lawrence and, during that relationship, he was comfortable enough to waltz her down the cobblestones on camera. Gwyneth and JLaw are household names though. 

Is Dakota Johnson a household name? 

On the one hand, I say yes, because of Fifty Shades and how many people care about that story. At the same time, I’m still surprised every day when people tell me they’ve never heard of someone. And it happens with people you think they should have heard of. The most recent example was last week, when someone I worked with had no idea about Charlie Hunnam. Living on the internet can exaggerate what you think is mass awareness. And even online we have our bubbles. Entertainment is so decentralised these days it’s getting more and more difficult to hit every single demo for recognition. Jacek and I just did an informal poll among his friends – these are all dudes who live in major cities, use technology more than casually, and participate in society. Only half of them had ever heard of Dakota Johnson. One guy actually responded with “not a clue”. But he’s definitely heard of Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lawrence. 

This is not a knock on Dakota Johnson. Rather, it’s a part of any discussion about celebrity and fame – there are levels of it and the industry, in many ways, like it or not, operates professionally and personally by that measuring system, arbitrary or otherwise. What’s interesting about Dakota though is that, within a certain Hollywood circle, she may present more famous than she is in the larger ecosystem. She has been hanging out with the Kate Hudsons and the Foster sisters and the Jennifer Meyers posse for a long, long time. She’s building influence of her own while also part of an influential one-world within the world of Hollywood so-called tastemakers who rule a small but powerful kingdom. In that sense, Dakota Johnson’s come-up is not all that different from Gwyneth’s 20 years earlier, only just before she totally breaks wide up to an even higher step of fame, which is another angle I find super interesting here. If that’s the case, does that mean Chris gets to be a part of it?