“I imagine he’s still very fit and very capable,” Johnson said of Nash. “I imagine he’s wiser and more thoughtful about things.”
“He’d still terrify you,” he added, using a cruder term. “But he would think about it first and make sure it came from a good place.”
The decades since “Vice” Johnson first made a star, in 1984, have given him a lot of material. They’ve actually been legendary – not all of which are verifiable, and he doesn’t remember everything either. He married Melanie Griffith (twice), set a world record in powerboat racing and released two hit singles (one with his then-girlfriend Barbra Streisand). There were struggles with substance abuse, stories of women’s underwear practically raining out of open windows. There was Miami in the 80’s.
Meanwhile, Johnson had five children, including a daughter, Dakota (of the “Fifty Shades” franchise), who today collects A-list anecdotes herself. More recently, he has undergone a renaissance of sorts, transforming himself from a protagonist into a multifaceted actor, specializing in a kind of winking, unreconstructed American man in films like “Machete” (2010) and “Django Unchained” (2012), and in TV shows such as “Eastbound & Down” (2009-13).
When Johnson first took on the role of Nash Bridges, he was looking for a change. Despite the structural similarities between ‘Bridges’ and ‘Vice’, the two main characters were very different. As Sonny skewed toward the tormented and stern, Nash was cheerful and funny, quick with a snappy line. Johnson appreciated the break.
“I had just played in ‘Miami Vice’ for five years, and the show and the character just got darker and darker,” he said. “After a while it was like, how dark and desolate and without hope can we make Sonny? And I said, ‘I’m not doing that again.’”