'Fifty Shades of Grey' Featured in Empire Magazine (March 2015)
(Transcripted by us)
4 - James was initially known as Snowqueens Icedragon. As its popularity increased, she decided to rewrite Master Of The Universe with original character names and no vampirism. So Edward became
Christian Grey, and Bella Swan turned into Anastasia Steele.
5 - It’s hard to find Master Of The Universe online these days, but if you look hard enough, remnants exist.
6 - After a bidding war involving several studios, James sold the rights in March 2012 to Universal and Focus Features for a rumoured $5 million, plus a percentage of the gross.
7 - Which is where Sam Taylor-Johnson first heard of it. “I was at a dinner and met James Schamus, who was head of Focus Features. I was trying to make conversation with someone I didn't know and said. ‘Are you doing anything exciting?’ He said. ‘We’ve just acquired the rights to Fifty Shades Of Grey.' I remember thinking. ‘Wow. I wonder who’ll do that and how they'll do it...’”
8 - lt was reported that James' demands for selling the rights involved the right to choose the director, the screenplay, locations and her producing partners.
9 - In the end, she chose Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti. who had previously produced Captain Phillips and The Social Network.
10 - Directors reportedly in the running included Joe Wright — who turned down the job — Patty Jenkins, Bill Condon, Bennett Miller, Gus Van Sant and Steven Soderbergh.
11 - Taylor-Johnson, the British artist-turned-director, got the gig almost by accident. “I just pitched up.” she laughs of the meeting, which was her first since returning to work after taking time off to have children. “I was thinking. ‘It’ll be good forme to meet the heads of the studios, and we’ll start with this’ I'm obviously better at it than I thought!”
12 - The 47 years-old director put together a mood reel for the meeting, containing clips from the likes of The Thomas Crown Affair and Last Tango In Paris, and even included one of Christian Bale as Batman, “to give a good idea of power and success and vulnerability and sex”.
13 - The screenplay was written by another Brit, Saving Mr. Banks' Kelly Marcel, who had to turn James’ first-person novel (sample line: "He’s my very own Christian Grey-flavoured popsicle") into a workable screenplay.
15 - The audition piece for Anastasia Steele was a four-page monologue from Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece, Persona.
16 - The likes of Ryan Gosling and Garrett Hedlund were bandied around for Christian Grey, while Taylor-Johnson's husband, Aaron, had also been rumoured at one point. But on a movie already full of Johnsons, that may have been one too many.
17 - Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson (daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith) were eventually cast in the lead roles. The stage was set for an explosive screen coupling.
18 - Not so fast. In October of 2013, Hunnam pulled out prematurely, mumbling something about scheduling conflicts and how this has never happened to him before.
19 - “It was a little galling,” says Taylor-Johnson of Hunnam s departure. “But I definitely had a sense it was coming, and that he was becoming anxious about it. It was more an anxiety of where books two and three would go. and how that would work, and stepping into such a vast unknown.”
20 - Less than two weeks after Hunnam left, Northern Irish M.T. A. Jamie Dornan, hot from the success of The Fall, replaced him. "Jamie owns Christian Grey now,” says Taylor-Johnson.
21 - Filming began in Vancouver (doubling for Seattle) in December 2013, with the working title The Adventures Of Max & Banks.
22 - The final budget was around $40 million, what Christian Grey calls “walking-around money”.
23 - Let's talk about sex. The books' sex scenes arc notoriously explicit. There was speculation that the film might go all-out to simulate that, and maybe even risk a dreaded NC-17 rating in the States.
24 - Not so, says the director. “It's a studio movie. We go pretty far. I would never be able to make a movie under a studio umbrella that's like Blue Is The Warmest Colour or In The Realm Of The Senses.”
25 - James L. Brooks advised the director to change her socks daily at 3pm during filming, and she took him up on it.
26 - She treated the sex scenes like action sequences. "I felt it was really important that each sex scene had a different character. I didn't want everyone to go, ‘Oh, they’re at it again!'"
27 - The MPAA. which usually frowns upon regulation thrusting, granted the film an R. Marcel had previously said an NC-17 might have been a possibility, but that would have been a commercial kiss of death.
28 - The film's first trailer, which launched in July, had 93 million views, making it 2014's most popular, ahead of Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
29 - De Luca confirmed to us that the cast had signed on for all three movies. “You would need people who would commit to a trilogy sight unseen on the strength of the scripts." However, no concrete plans have been announced for sequels. “At this stage, the studio is wisely waiting and seeing how it does,’’says Taylor-Johnson.
30 - The soundtrack includes Farned It, by The Weeknd, the video for which the Fifty Shades helmer directed just days after locking the film itself. “I'm a glutton for punishment,'' she laughs. “I'm absolutely fucking shattered.”
31 - Some experts think there are more than 150 shades of grey. A quick search on the Dulux website reveals just 17. It’s all very confusing.