Dakota Johnson: Actress, celebrity daughter, famous bangs-haver, citrus fibber, truth-sayer, and … hostage-taker? Perhaps. Johnson has been in the news lately for her recent roles in critically lauded projects The Lost Daughter and Am I OK?, which means that her infamous Architectural Digest tour has resurfaced on TikTok. On Sunday, a Twitter user with the handle @biz_socks quote-tweeted the lime video with a Dakota anecdote he claimed to affirm the “pure chaos she radiates”: “True story: Dakota Johnson once locked me and my Mom inside a Blue Bottle Coffee shop because the barista told her she couldn’t make the coffee herself.”
This sounds like the sort of far-fetched story that stan Twitter sometimes likes to make up, but @biz_socks didn’t signal that he was joking, and it only got stranger when he followed up with what appears to be evidence of Dakota Johnson handling the door to a Blue Bottle Coffee location, writing that she “closed the door on all of us who were still inside, pulled a rope out of her bag, tied the doors shut, and walked away. We had to have a passerby untie the rope so we could get out.”
Based on this photo alone, there’s still an opportunity for Johnson to say “that’s not true, Ellen.” The pic doesn’t show her actually shutting the door or tying the rope. There aren’t any viral videos of the incident floating around. But last October, a staff member who worked at the same Blue Bottle tweeted their own claim about Johnson, “one time she came into my coffee shop at milk studios at like 11am, walked behind the counter and started pretending that she was making drinks while her people tied the front doors shut from the outside and started filming her … Customers were trapped inside.” The details of the alleged incident vary slightly, but overall, it’s an eerily similar anecdote. And the location in the @biz_socks picture looks like the exterior to Milk Studios, where there was indeed a now-defunct Blue Bottle location, on 15th Street in Chelsea. Things were getting spooky.
So what is the truth? I reached out to @biz_socks, who turned out to be a New Yorker named L.J. (he asked for his last name not to be used) who had been trying to make sense of this bizarre celebrity encounter “for six years!” Before we spoke on the phone, he suggested that Johnson’s take-no-prisoners approach to the latte arts might have had something to do with a video the actress made for her January 2017 Vogue cover story. It was filmed at Milk Studios, and at the 1:07 mark, Johnson wears the same floral Gucci dress seen in the Blue Bottle photo.
It also lined up with the date on L.J.’s photo. “It was October 9, I think it was one in the afternoon. October 9, 2016.” And he was indeed at the Blue Bottle location on 15th St. “My mom was in town visiting, and we were walking around doing typical ‘take your mom to New York’ stuff. And I wanted to grab some coffee, so I went into Blue Bottle with her,” he recounts.
“I was waiting in line behind who turned out to be Dakota Johnson, and I was like, This woman looks so familiar. I couldn’t quite place it. I was like, It might be Emily Blunt. But then when I saw her face — because she turned around to start talking to the barista — I went over to my mom and was like, ‘Hey, don’t make a big deal, but that’s Dakota Johnson from 50 Shades of Gray.’ So what does my mom do? She immediately rips out her phone, getting ready to take pictures of her.”
L.J. says that he couldn’t make out what Johnson was saying to the staff while he was talking to his mom but claims he “could tell that she was having some sort of, not altercation, but she was definitely having a conversation with the barista and they were like, ‘No, no. No.’ She ended up just walking out. It wasn’t too busy, and two people walked out, and she held the door open for them, which was nice.” He says the photo he tweeted was one his mom took of Johnson holding open the door for people.
“But then she pulled, like, a rope out of her purse, and literally just tied the door shut. One of the baristas ran over and was like, ‘No, no, you can’t do that! Stop!’ And she just walked away. We were all inside looking completely dumbfounded … As people were walking by, we were knocking on the door, and this couple stopped and figured out what we were doing and untied the rope.” How does one live with the knowledge that at a moment’s notice, a star of Suspiria could spontaneously lock you in a coffee shop? Do you live in fear that Mia Goth might padlock you into a La Colombe?
No. You try to make sense of it. L.J. points out that someone standing behind Johnson in the photo is carrying what appears to be a lint roller, suggesting this stunt was part of the Vogue shoot. He claims someone else in her crew had a DSLR. In the two-minute Vogue video, Johnson acts as self-consciously quirky as humanly possible, playing up the demanding cover-star schtick, asking for “model water” and sending it back for “supermodel water.” Filming herself being difficult and erratic at the coffee shop downstairs below the studio would have been totally in line with the gag (not that it excuses that sort of behavior). I reached out to the director of photography on the Vogue shoot to see what he remembered, but his manager said “he really can’t recall. 2016 feels like ages ago.”
L.J. says that after he posted his tweet on Sunday, he was contacted by a Twitter user who didn’t want to be mentioned by name but who claims to have been working as a barista on the day of Johnson’s coffee-gate. “They told me that apparently she was there doing something at Milk Studios,” says L.J. “And I guess they wanted her to do something where she would be making coffee or something, and the barista said no because it wasn’t approved by Blue Bottle corporate and [they] didn’t want to all get in trouble for having her behind the bar.” Vulture reached out to Blue Bottle and Johnson for a statement but they have yet to respond.
There was one more lingering question for L.J., as someone who allegedly witnessed Johnson’s own Dog Day Afternoon: Knowing what you know now, do you believe Ellen?
“I honestly don’t know. I don’t think I credit Dakota for holding Ellen accountable for whatever happened. The clip just didn’t really seem to play into that. But I think if Ellen knew about this, she’d have something to say. Like, ‘Well, you locked people in a coffee shop’.”