In an interview with Britt Hennemuth, Johnson reflected on the films, which helped make her a Hollywood superstar.
“I’m a sexual person, and when I’m interested in something, I want to know so much about it,” Johnson said. “That’s why I did those big naked movies. I signed up to do a very different version of the film we ended up making.”
“She had a lot of creative control, all day, every day, and she just demanded that certain things happen,” Johnson said. “There were parts of the books that just wouldn’t work in a movie, like the inner monologue, which was at times incredibly cheesy. It wouldn’t work to say out loud. It was always a battle. Always.”
Still, Johnson told Hennemuth she doesn’t regret her involvement in the films, which drew critical derision but were box-office hits.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of regret,” she said. “If I had known at the time that’s what it was going to be like, I don’t think anyone would’ve done it. It would’ve been like, ‘Oh, this is psychotic.’ But no, I don’t regret it.”
Johnson stars in the new Netflix film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, opening July 15.
Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.