Pointing fingers. Dakota Johnson claimed there were struggles behind the scenes of Fifty Shades of Grey, the BDSM romance trilogy she starred in from 2015 to 2018.
“I’m a sexual person, and when I’m interested in something, I want to know so much about it,” Johnson, 32, told Vanity Fair in a feature published on Tuesday, June 28. “That’s why I did those big naked movies.”
She added, “I signed up to do a very different version of the film we ended up making.”
The erotic movies followed Johnson as Anastasia Steele, a grad student who finds herself in a relationship with tortured billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).
When asked what the “problem” was behind the scenes, Johnson blamed a “combo” of the studio and directors (Sam Taylor-Johnson directed the first and James Foley did the two sequels) throughout the three films. “It was also the author of the books,” she alleged.
E.L. James penned Fifty Shades as Twilight fan fiction before it went viral, and the England native, 59, adapted her work to be an original series in 2011, selling over 125 million copies worldwide. With such a massive fanbase, James (real name is Erika Mitchell) was welcomed as a producer on the films.
“She had a lot of creative control, all day, every day, and she just demanded that certain things happen,” Johnson explained. “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 [a 1966 Ingmar Bergman film] and I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be really special.’”
Johnson was 23 when she was cast opposite Charlie Hunnam and Closer playwright Patrick Marber revised the initial Fifty Shades script — which Johnson alleged that James tossed after the Sons of Anarchy actor backed out of the role, citing a scheduling conflict.
“It just became something crazy,” she said. “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.”
After Dornan signed on, he worked with the Cha Cha Real Smooth star and Taylor-Johnson tried to tweak the script back to what it was before James scrapped it.
“We’d do the takes of the movie that Erika wanted to make, and then we would do the takes of the movie that we wanted to make,” Johnson claimed. “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.”
According to Johnson, the one scene from the original script scene that made it to the big screen is when Anastasia and Christian make the sexual contract, and the actress still believes it is “the best scene in the whole movie.”
Though it was a stressful experience, the TeaTime Pictures founder has no regrets and admits the steamy films were good for her career. While the Fifty Shades films were critically panned, they earned over $1 billion at the box office.
“There are things that I still cannot say because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s career and I don’t want to damage anybody’s reputation, but both Jamie and I were treated really well,” the star said. “Erika is a very nice woman, and she was always kind to me and I am grateful she wanted me to be in those movies.”