Most people are probably still wondering how a Fifty Shades of Grey movie is going to be feasible – without making significant compromises to the sexually-explicit content of author E.L. James’ Twilight fan-fiction-turned literary best-seller – however, we’re starting to learn more about who will be taking on the challenge (or, rather, working to overcome that problem).
Arrow lead Stephen Amell has admitted to meeting Universal and Focus Features executives, about the Fifty Shades male lead role of the billionaire with a dark side, Christian Grey. More recently, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting) was reported to have shot a demo reel featuring Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike) as Mr. Grey, in a bid to secure the directing job.
However, according to the latest THR exclusive, the current front-runner to direct the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is artsy British filmmaker Joe Wright. The site cautions that no official deal is in place, nor should Wright be considered a lock at this point in time. Moreover, studio heads are either looking at or have previously set their eyes on similar directors with a strong critical reputation; that includes Bennett Miller (Moneyball) and Patty Jenkins (Monster), in addition to Van Sant.
[UPDATE: Deadline is reporting that Wright is out of the running for the Fifty Shades of Grey directing job, due to a schedule conflict.]
Now, the idea that Wright – the director of prestigious literature adaptations like Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, and Anna Karenina – would have any interest in taking on the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, probably seems ridiculous to many (most?) people. Nonetheless, screenwriter Kelly Marcel has said her intention is to craft James’ pulpy, erotic, source material into a provocative and emotionally-complex cinematic love story for adults (one that could end up Rated NC-17) – and that, frankly, sounds like the sort of challenging project that the ambitious Wright could be willing to try his hand at.
Similarly, Wright has proven to be a talented storyteller, whose films to date have all featured well-rounded female protagonists (save for The Soloist) who struggle with very mature concerns of the heart, especially the conflict between physical desire and emotional need. That makes him a compelling candidate to elevate the more trashy material in Fifty Shades of Grey – involving Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey’s BDSM (Bondage & Discipline/Dominance & Submission/Sadism & Masochism) play in the bedroom – and turn in into, well… high art.
On that note, when the rumors about Emma Watson playing Miss Steele began to circulate, we pointed out that having “a respectable director” could be the key to secure a lead actress of similar talent-level (easy folks, we’re talking about acting capabilities here). If Wright signs on, then his go-to leading lady Keira Knightley would be the obvious choice, in part because she has played progressively complex women in every film that she and Wright have made together – and has even been rumored for the role of Miss Steele in the past – hence, Fifty Shades of Grey would be an opportunity to continue that trend.
Fifty Shades of Grey could arrive in theaters as early as Summer 2014, so we’ll keep you posted on the situation as more information becomes available.
Update Source: Deadline
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