Director Sam Taylor-Johnson has discussed her experience directing Fifty Shades of Grey, admitting that she regrets taking the project and talking about her on-set conflict with producer E.L. James. The film adaptation is first of the trilogy based on the popular novels of the same name penned by James. The movie stars Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele as leads.
Following her work on the debut film of the franchise, Taylor-Johnson was originally attached to work on its subsequent sequels. However, the 50-year-old filmmaker subsequently announced that she was bowing out of the series. She was replaced by James Foley as the director for Fifty Shades Darker, as well as the trilogy capper, Fifty Shades Freed, scheduled for next year. In her announcement, Taylor-Johnson didn’t mention anything negative about the author or anyone else involved with the project; she even wished the property well and thanked Universal for the opportunity to work on it. However, recent interviews shine a different light on her real experience.
In a conversation with The Sunday Times, Taylor-Johnson admitted that she went through a hard time while working on Grey, especially with her constant back-and-forth with James about the film’s creative direction. She even adds that if given the opportunity again, she would simply turn it down:
“With the benefit of hindsight would I go through it again? Of course I wouldn’t. I’d be mad. It was a struggle and there were lots of onset tête-à-têtes, with me trying to bat it into the [right] place. I like everyone — and I get really confused when they don’t like me. I was so confused by E.L. James. I don’t understand when I can’t navigate a person, when there’s no synergy.”
Taylor-Johnson continued on this topic in a separate interview with THR, detailing that James was very much concerned about pleasing the massive fan base of the property. She, on the other hand, was willing to take some chances and deviate a bit from the novels to make sure that they are offering something different to keep the film interesting:
“Two different creative visions. Her vision versus mine, and they were polar opposite. Every scene was fought over. It was tough. It was like wading uphill through sticky tar. Her thing was, ‘This is what the fans expect.’ I’d be like, ‘Well, let’s try and hit those marks but create a new universe at the same time.’ “
Grey was a hit in terms of box office; for more than two years, it was the largest-ever opening for a female-directed feature, until Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman zoomed past its $85.1 million to make $103 million earlier this month. Unfortunately, the film adaptation tanked in terms of critical reception. That said, some noted that Taylor-Johnson’s treatment was step-up from its novel counterpart, treating the smutty material with some seriousness and prompting questions of what her untampered version would have been like.
Taking the lessons that she has learned on the set of Fifty Shades of Grey, Taylor-Johnson is leaving the past behind and embarking on new projects, including upcoming Netflix series Gypsy. The project revolves around psychiatrist Jean, played by Naomi Watts, who develops dangerous intimate relationships with the people involved with her patients. The drama series is set to debut on June 30.