Prepare to Get Emotional Over Dakota Johnson and Antonio Banderas' Cutest Moments Over the Years

Antonio Banderas was married to Dakota Johnson's mother Melanie Griffith for 20 years before they ultimately split, but that doesn't mean the stepfather and daughter's bond has been severed.

By Tierney Bricker Aug 10, 2022 12:00 PMTags
Watch: Antonio Banderas on Stepdaughter Dakota in "Fifty Shades"

Antonio Banderas and Dakota Johnson are family forever. 

The Legend of Zorro star was married to Johnson's mother Melanie Griffith for almost 20 years before the couple split in 2015, but that doesn't mean the relationship between him and his stepdaughter  ended. In fact, the divorce only seemed to fortify their unique bond, with Banderas even raving over Johnson's acting skills in a 2015 interview with E! News ahead of Fifty Shades of Grey's release

"I know the expectations of these movies are enormous but we know—every member of the family, brother, sister, real father—that she's a good actress," Banderas gushed. "She's going to have a fantastic career because actually she can play many different turfs...This is a great opportunity for her and I know that she's going to take it."

No, we're not crying, we just so happened to be chopping onions while a tree branch fell into our eye, okay?!

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But that's far from the first time the pair have exchanged heartwarming words about each other. So, in honor of Banderas' 62nd birthday Aug. 10, we're looking back on his special bond with the 32-year-old, including their adorable date to the Oscars, her cute nickname she still uses for her stepfather and the emotional speech she gave in his honor that left her in tears...

Dakota Johnson had her first acting role in Antonio Banderas' directorial debut, 1999's Crazy in Alabama, which starred her mother, Melanie Griffith. Johnson played Sondra in the movie, which didn't mark the first time she had spent time with her stepfather on a set, telling Architectural Digest that she once delivered an Easter basket to Madonna while Banderas was filming Evita with the pop star in Budapest in 1996.

Those memories are still cherished by Banderas, who previously said, "She's my daughter, I love her. I've been with her on my shoulders, traveling all around the world."

While Johnson wowed in a gold Gucci dress at the 2017 Academy Awards, it wasn't the first time she attended the major event. In 2000, a then 10-year-old Johnson accompanied her stepfather and mom to the Oscars. Wearing a purple dress and jacket, Johnson even did interviews with the couple, chatting with the late Joan Rivers, adorably turning to Griffith to ask, " it?" when Rivers asked if this was her first Oscars.

"Dakota called me Paponio, which is a mixture between papa, which is 'daddy' in Spanish, and Antonio," he told Vulture of the adorable nickname she had given him while growing up. "I am her Antonio papa, so Paponio."

Johnson got emotional when she presented an award to Banderas at the 2019 Hollywood Film Awards.

"I come from a family of many a marriage and I got very lucky," Johnson, whose dad is actor Don Johnson, said. "I got a bonus dad who I realized that, over time, is actually one of the most influential people in my whole life," she said. "When I was six years old, my mother married a man who brought an unbelievably bright light and a whole new world of creativity and culture—and one remarkably magical little sister into our family."

Tearing up, Johnson continued, "My stepfather—f*#k! Antonio Banderas burst into our lives. He was so vibrant and so fun and so funny and his English was abstract and we found it absolutely amazing. He loved my mother, and my siblings and I so big, and so fiercely and so loud, that it would change all of our lives together."

After accepting the award, Banderas returned the favor, sweetly shouting out Johnson and her sister, Stella, 25.

"I want to dedicate this to two people that I love, one is right here, Dakota, for something very simple, because you always call me papi, and still now you call me papi and I love that!" the Pain and Glory actor said on stage. "You have no idea how much I love that!"

At the 31st Palm Springs International Film Festival several weeks later, Banderas revealed to E! News that he had no idea that Johnson would be giving such a touching speech. 

"It was all a surprise," he said. "Totally. I mean, I knew that she was going to give the speech, but I had no idea whatsoever how she was going to just do her speech, she didn't tell me anything."

It was a poignant moment as it confirmed to him that the two decades they spent as a family meant just as much to her as they did to him.

"I thought and felt that all of those years," Banderas admitted. "But I knew that it was a confirmation that all of those years that Melanie and I spent together, they were years that was not only just about Melanie and me, they were about the family. They were worth it all."