Behind the making of every film is a powerful clash of egos; what makes the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie something of an anomaly is that those egos belong to women.
In an article published in the February 2015 issue of Vanity Fair, Vanessa Grigoriadis delves into the strange tug-of-war between Fifty Shades author E.L. James and the film's director, Sam Taylor-Johnson.
First of all, I'd like to reiterate that Sam Taylor-Johnson is the fucking bomb. A childhood on welfare, a colon cancer diagnosis at 29, a breast cancer diagnosis at 33, divorce at 40, engaged to 19-year-old actor Aaron Johnson at 42, who later delivered both of their two daughters on his own, at their house ("It was amazing," she told VF). Primarily a photographer whose work centers on the dichotomy between the exterior and interior self, her directorial debut came in 2009 with the critically acclaimed Nowhere Boy, based on the childhood of John Lennon. She was made an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2011. After taking a few years off to focus on family, Taylor-Johnson had trouble pushing her way back into the film industry:
Like so many women who dip out of the workforce, she was surprised at how hard it was to get back in, especially in Hollywood. "I'd go into meetings where I could see the attention was just not in the room," she says. " 'What have you been up to?' they'd ask. 'Just had my fourth kid,' I'd say. They'd say, 'Um … Moving on.' "
Taylor-Johnson's artistic sensibilities apparently created a bit of a divide between herself and E.L. James, who held an unusual amount of sway in the various decisions involved in the making of Fifty Shades:
James was an amateur among sophisticates. Taylor-Johnson had her own ideas about how to shoot the film, including the sex scenes. Their knowledge of film and reference points was completely different. Taylor-Johnson thought Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now had one of the best sex scenes in any film, and one with the woman mostly in control. James's favorite films, she tells us, are Casablanca, Good Will Hunting, Cabaret, Aliens, The Shawshank Redemption, Finding Nemo, and It's a Wonderful Life.
James, who is described by Grigoriadis as "a great dinner date," was incredibly protective of fan expectations, and pushed production—to varying degrees of success—to adhere closely to her original vision. Producer Michael De Luca admitted that "there were ups and downs" and "some spirited debates" during filming. Taylor-Johnson herself adds:
"I kept trying to remind myself that they hired me for a reason. Some people said to me, 'I'm surprised you haven't quit.' I was like, 'Why would you think I'd quit?' I never quit anything. Not without a fight." She admits, of James, "We battled all the way through. She'd say the same. There were tough times and revelatory times. There were sparring contests. It was definitely not an easy process, but that doesn't mean to say that it didn't come out the right way."
Check out the full article here.
Images via AP