The Surprising Reason Dakota Johnson Produced Cha Cha Real Smooth

In the upcoming film "Cha Cha Real Smooth," Dakota Johnson plays a single mom named Domino, who had an neurotypical daughter named Lola. She meets party starter Andrew (Cooper Raiff, who also wrote and directed the film) who is at loose ends a couple of years after graduating college. She's already engaged, but despite that, there is an attraction between them. Between trying to figure out what he wants from life, and working as a babysitter for Lola, Andrew has to navigate matters of the heart. 

Dakota Johnson also acted as a producer on "Cha Cha Real Smooth," which gave her a lot of freedom to perform the way she wanted, according to an interview with Entertainment Tonight (via IndieWire). It's something a lot of actors do for various reasons, but being a producer sometimes gives you more control over your own work. In this case, Johnson worked closely with Raiff on what audiences are going to see. 

"A lot of this process was different, because we worked on everything together. Depending on what we shot, and how it went, and if anything was improvised or if we didn't get something or we got extra whatever it was, then we would adjust further the following scene, so that it would make more sense or call back to a joke that we made that wasn't previously in the script. So just constantly updating, so that it was a real, cohesive story."

It seems like a process like that would be far more conducive to a good final product if you've got good actors on the project, which Johnson is. 

Improv without fear

Johnson had more to say, and this really brings it home. She explained why this was a bigger deal than we might think. "Some people really do get annoyed, they're like, 'You're just an actress, how could you know?' but like, I have a brain in my head. I guess now, because it's my movie — well, because I was a producer on it — nobody could tell me I couldn't do that."

I wonder which films people had issues with Johnson's improv, but of course, she didn't give any more information. Improv can be a powerful tool in a production. As a former actor, I can at least speak from my own experience when I say that often people get annoyed at other actors for improv because they're not good at it themselves. They feel put on the spot. Whether or not that's been the case for the people around Johnson, I don't know, but "Cha Cha Real Smooth" has been getting good reviews and won an Audience Award from the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance in 2022. That seems to speak for itself.

"Cha Cha Real Smooth" also stars Brad Garrett as Andrew's father, Leslie Mann as his mother, and newcomers Vanessa Burghardt and Evan Assante. 

The film premieres in limited theaters and on Apple TV+ on June 17, 2022.