In 2015, Texan actress Dakota Johnson starred in the film Fifty Shades of Greyadaptation of the namesake best seller by British author EL James. It follows the story of Anastasia Steele, a literature student who by chance crosses paths with Christian Grey, an enigmatic businessman with whom she ends up having a sadomasochistic relationship. Despite negative reviews, the film became a huge box office success and catapulted Johnson to fame. However, the histrion was not exempt from going through a particularly difficult path.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the thirtysomething interpreter reflected deeply on the difficult experience of shooting that popular erotic film. For example, she recounted that she signed with Universal Pictures “to do a very different version of the movie that we ended up doing.” Such divergence was linked to the studio giving “a lot of creative control” to EL James (born Erika Mitchell), which led to tensions between the writer and the production team.
“It was always a battle,” confessed Dakota Johnson, who was 23 years old at the time. “Always. When I auditioned for that movie, I read a monologue by Person and I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be really special’ […] There were many different disagreements. I have never been able to talk about this honestly, because you want to promote a film in the right way and I am proud of what we finally did. Everything turned out as it was supposed to, but it was complicated.
An extreme decision of the author of Fifty Shades of Grey was to scrap the original script, conceived by Oscar nominee patrick marber (closer, Scandal). Johnson explained that it was an angry reaction to Charlie Hunnam—an actor originally slated to play Christian Grey—resigning from the project due to scheduling conflicts. Later, Jamie Dornan stepped in as her replacement, and the actor tried, in collusion with her co-star and director Sam Taylor-Johnson, to salvage bits of Marber’s script.
“We’d do the shots of the movie that Erika wanted to do, and then we’d do the shots of the movie that we wanted to do,” Johnson told Vanity Fair. “The night before, I would rewrite scenes with the original dialogue so I could add a line here and there. It was chaos all the time.”
Likewise, she opined that the only scene fully recovered from Patrick Marber’s script (the one where Anastasia and Christian describe their sexual contract) “is the best scene in the entire film.” Then came two sequels, fifty shades darker (2017) and fifty shades freed (2018), with a different director —New Yorker James Foley— but who also presented several challenges at the time of filming, which required Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan to know when to set limits.
“We did the weirdest things for years and we needed to be a team: ‘We’re not going to do that’ or ‘You can’t do that camera angle,'” the actress commented. “Sam didn’t go back to directing after the first movie. As a woman, she had brought a softer perspective. But James Foley went on to direct and he’s an interesting man. It was different doing those weird things with a man behind the camera. Just a different energy.”
And I add:
“There are things I can’t say yet because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s career and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s reputation, but both Jamie and I were treated very well. Erika is a very nice woman, she was always nice to me and I’m grateful that she wanted me to be in those movies.”
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On the other hand, Johnson denied that there had been a dispute between her and Cornan at some point during the shoot. Apparently, the healthy coexistence between both interpreters was always a constant.
“There was never a time when we didn’t get along,” he said. “I know it’s weird, but he’s like a brother to me. I love him so, so, so much. And we were really there for each other. We had to really trust each other and protect each other.”
And if he regrets having participated in the saga Fifty Shadesadded:
“Nope. I don’t think it’s a matter of regret. If I had known at the time that it was going to be like this, I don’t think anyone would have done it. It would have been like, ‘Oh, this is psychotic. But no, I don’t regret it […] It was great for our runs. So amazing. So lucky. But weird. Too weird.”
Dakota Johnson was last seen in the psychological drama the dark daughter and dramatic comedy Cha Cha Real Smooth, available in the Apple TV Plus catalog. will soon star Persuasionthe film adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, courtesy of Netflix.
The entry How Dakota Johnson battled on the set of Fifty Shades of Gray was first published in Cine PREMIERE.