Dakota Johnson Discusses Author's Chaotic Fifty Shades Conflicts
Dakota Johnson discusses her conflicts with author E. L. James during the tumultuous Fifty Shades of Grey movie development
The sexual trilogy, which James originally intended to be Twilight fan fiction, follows the maturing romance between college grad Anastasia Steele and the young business billionaire Christian Grey who introduces her to the BDSM universe. James quickly rose to the position of one of the highest-paid authors thanks to the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy, which brought in profits of more than $95 million, including $5 million for Focus Features to purchase the picture rights.
James exercised tremendous control over the creation of the Fifty Shades of Grey movies, hand-selecting the producers who would later make pivotal artistic choices, like the contentious choice to cast Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in the lead roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele instead of more prominent actors. The development of the movie adaptations was notoriously turbulent, and the initial director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, quit after the first film because of differences with author Henry James. Despite the fact that the series ended up making over $1.3 billion worldwide, the Fifty Shades movies were ultimately roundly criticized by reviewers.
Dakota Johnson discussed the "psychotic" process of creating the Fifty Shades of Grey movie trilogy in a recent interview with Vanity Fair. The Anastasia Steele actress discusses how James' involvement caused production to become more challenging. Johnson and James would frequently argue as the author insisted on having her books adapted to her exact specifications, frequently going against the wishes of the screenwriter, director, and actors. The following is what Johnson said:
"I signed up to do a very different version of the film we ended up making. [E.L. James] had a lot of creative control, all day, every day, and she just demanded that certain things happen. 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. When I auditioned for that movie, I read a monologue from Persona and I was like, "Oh, this is going to be really special." There were a lot of different disagreements. I haven’t been able to talk about this truthfully ever, because you want to promote a movie the right way, and I’m proud of what we made ultimately and everything turns out the way it’s supposed to, but it was tricky. We’d do the takes of the movie that [James] wanted to make, and then we would do the takes of the movie that we wanted to make. The night before, I would rewrite scenes with the old dialogue so I could add a line here and there. It was like mayhem all the time."
For the first time, Johnson is being completely upfront about some of the conflicts that occurred during the production of the Fifty Shades of Grey movies. Johnson previously had a duty to promote the films, as she points out in her comments, so revealing some of these secrets at that time would have been improper. Johnson is allowed to reveal her side of the tale now that a few years have gone since the publication of the third and final part, Fifty Shades Freed, in 2018, albeit she confesses to being somewhat reserved in order to avoid unnecessarily harming other people's reputations and professions. Johnson confesses to being happy with the finished result despite her conflicts with the Fifty Shades of Grey author, who also helped cast her in her breakout role as Anastasia Steele. Johnson has no animosity against the author. Johnson is starting to disassociate herself from her career-defining part in a critically panned movie series, much like Kristen Stewart, thanks to her performances in a variety of arthouse movies. Her most recent ones are The Lost Daughter and Cha Cha Real Smooth.
Source: Vanity Fair