Warning: sexy spoilers ahead!
If Fifty Shades Darker actor Eric Johnson totally creeped you out as Ana’s new boss Jack Hyde, you might take comfort in the fact that he also creeped himself out while playing the character — an unhinged, angry type who takes an unhealthy interest in Ana (Dakota Johnson).
“This one was weird for me,” Johnson, 37, tells PEOPLE. “I’ve played bad guys and done horrible violent things, but it was something about the violence towards women that was really gross. It’s messed up! At the end of the day I felt so gross about myself. Like, ‘Ugh, I can’t believe I said and did all those things!’ ”
In real-life the Edmonton, Alberta, native is, like many Canadians are known to be, genuinely nice, polite and happy — though he was no stranger to the kink of Fifty Shades. “My wife [writer-producer Adria Budd Johnson] had read the Fifty Shades books, so I was already aware,” he tells PEOPLE in the new issue. “It’s all about indulging those fantasies for an hour or two.”
Here are five things to know about the actor who’s very good at playing bad.
1. He’s always wanted to be an actor
“I loved doing the school plays in early elementary school, and when I was 9 I did a summer camp for two weeks and we did a little performance [at the end],” says Johnson of when the acting bug bit him. “Growing up in Canada, none of my family were performers or anything like that, but I was terrible at hockey so they needed something for me to do on Saturdays for me to get out of the house. I signed up for theater school on Saturdays and I’d go for four-and-a-half hours every Saturday morning and learn about theater. I did my first professional play at 11, and there was really nothing else I ever dreamed of doing. I felt so fortunate that I knew at the age of like 12, like this is all I want to do for the rest of my life, that’s the only play, there’s no backup plan. My mom wanted me to go to school and have a backup plan, I’m like ‘No, this is the only plan.’ ”
2. Johnson’s first big film role was playing a young Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall — but they never met
“I had zero interaction with him because of course we were never onscreen together at the same time,” he says of playing “Teen Tristan” in the film, which revolves around the lives of three brothers and their father living in the Montana wilderness. “It was an amazing experience at 14 years old to be running around the Rocky Mountains and then working with a 1,400-lb. grizzly bear, it was pretty awesome. I loved it because I got to be at work, and working with a bunch of adults that was a really formative job for me. Hollywood didn’t seem so far away or intangible anymore. I remember at 12 years old I was writing goals down, like, ‘I want to be in an American movie before I’m 16,’ and then it happened at 14 and I had to come up with some new goals.”
3. He only plays a good guy on the Hallmark Channel
If you happen to catch re-airings of Fir Crazy or Valentine Ever After on the Hallmark Channel during their Christmas and Valentine’s Day movie marathons, you will see Johnson (who also plays a baddie on The Knick) in rare form — playing “good guys.”
“The best thing about doing those Hallmark movies is my dad loves them,” says Johnson. “My dad watches all of those Christmas movies, not just ones I’m in, he watches them all, so the first one I did, it was like my Christmas present to my dad. ‘Here you go, Dad, here’s something you can watch,’ so I’m very invested in trying to make it as good as possible because I want my dad to sit there and enjoy himself. The schedules on them are pretty crazy. We’re usually shooting them in the middle of summer and it’s boiling hot, but it’s really one of the only places where they hire me to play the good guy.”
4. He and his family make their own pizza — from scratch
Johnson’s favorite non-work activity is his movie-and-pizza nights with his family, wife Adria Budd and their daughter Calla, 9.
“Movies are a big thing in our house,” says Johnson. “Every Friday we do family pizza night and we make pizza from scratch and then we sit down and watch a movie.”
And how old will his daughter have to be before she sees her dad in Darker?
“She is definitely going to have to be a lot older,” he says. “And at that point she’ll be an adult and can make her own decisions.”
5. We haven’t seen the last of “murdery” Jack Hyde …
For those who haven’t read the books, and are wondering what Johnson’s character Hyde is up to after that stalker-like final scene in Darker when he burns a hole through Christian Grey’s face in a photo, he’ll be baaaack! — in Fifty Shades Freed.
“That [scene] really sets up where we’re going for the next movie Fifty Shades Freed,” says Johnson. “Jack Hyde is a little unraveled now. You can expect a very obsessed man who will stop at nothing to exact his revenge on Christian Grey and you’ll find out why he’s so obsessed with Christian and Ana. There’s a history — it’s again pasts coming back to haunt people.”
Fifty Shades Darker is now playing in theatres.
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.com.
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