’50 Shades of Grey’ Finds Helmer in Sam Taylor-Johnson

Sam Taylor-Johnson

Michael De Luca is producing

Sam Taylor-Johnson, the British helmer of “Nowhere Boy” who is married to “Kick-Ass” star Aaron Taylor-Johnson, has been tapped to direct the Universal and Focus adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the studio announced Wednesday.

Michael De Luca is producing and Kelly Marcel penned the script.

“Sam’s unique ability to gracefully showcase complex relationships dealing with love, emotion and sexual chemistry make her the ideal director to bring Christian and Anastasia’s relationship to life,” said De Luca. “E. L. James’ characters and vivid storytelling require a director who is willing to take risks and push the envelope where needed and Sam is a natural fit.”

SEE ALSO: Sam Taylor-Johnson Is a ‘Reliable Wife’

E.L James’ book has been on the bestseller list for more than a year, but adapting the story of the steamy love affair between 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey and virginal college student Anastasia Steele will be a challenge for the studio, which will likely need to balance on the tightrope between depicting explicit NC-17 scenes and a more marketable, but less faithful to the book, R rating. The second challenge is making sure viewers remain interested in the controversial material by the time the film finally is released.

Several directors had been in the mix including Joe Wright and Gus Van Sant, and though many observers felt a female helmer would be a better choice, the choice of 46-year old Taylor-Johnson is still surprising, given the high profile of the project and her limited number of credits. Formerly Sam Taylor-Wood, the helmer was a photographer and video artist before turning to directing.

SEE ALSO: It’s Not Just Hollywood That’s Hot for “50 Shades”

The next question is whether her husband is in line for the role of Christian Grey. Casting meetings haven’t even begun yet for the Grey role and Johnson is a little young for the part (he’s 23) but sources say he may have been part of the meetings Sam Taylor-Johnson was having with Universal and Focus execs.

Aaron will star next in Universal’s “Kick-Ass 2” and was at one point considered for the lead role in another high priority project at Universal, “Unbroken,” that Angelina Jolie is directing.

Taylor-Johnson is repped by WME and Brillstein Entertainment.

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  1. Fran Miller says:

    I’ve read all 3 volumes, and the audio books, and I definitely feel that only a
    Female would do to direct. This is a woman’s feelings & reactions to a
    relationship like that. A Male cannot know, and therefore, acts on his own feelings.

  2. Janiecec@cox.net says:

    I would love to see the actor who portrays E.J.DeMera on Days of Our Lives…He would be perfect as Mr. Gray…

  3. Dr.Cast says:

    OH MY….

  4. I’m so interesting in seeing this flim,I read the books and yes it has wow me,I’m loving it,and can’t wait to to the story in full action.wish the producer and actor all the best in completing this flim,love the writer for making such an interesting and on the edge book that keep the reader anxious and wet while reading

  5. JROC says:

    Eww. Eww. Eww. Seriously. If he is cast I will cast my books into the fire and never, ever watch the movie. I will not even pay $1 for Netflix!! NO! NO! NO!!!!!!!!

  6. The director of choice for the film adaptation of 50 SHADES OF GREY is Adrian Lyne. He had been in talks with Universal, but the director wanted the adaptation to lean toward an NC-17 rating. The studio passed on Lyne, looking to maximize profit during the movie’s general release. Wisdom would have the filmmaker shoot an “adult-only” version on a selected DVD release. Of course, this decision is predicated upon received wisdom which is always in short supply.

  7. Cliff says:

    Why is Sam Taylor-Wood’s love life relevant to the story? What male director would have his spouse mentioned (in the first paragraph, no less) in a job announcement? So offensive and so sexist. Variety, you’re showing yourself to be part of the old boy’s club, now more than ever.

    • At Variety, where many of our top reporters and editors are female, we felt that her relationship with her spouse was relevant as he is a working actor, who in fact has even been mentioned in connection with “50 Shades,” while she has only directed one feature. There is nothing mentioned about her “love life” per se, but her husband is definitely relevant and newsworthy.

    • Evie Hammond says:


    • Frank W says:

      I think the only reason it was brought up is that most people probably heard of Kick Ass and her husband more than they have of her. Which is a shame of course. I think women direct better love scenes than men, so I’m in favor of the pick. I do hope they get a great cinematographer to film it .

      • Fran Miller says:

        This film needs a FEMALE director! A female made is successful,
        and a man just doesn’t think like a woman in these matters!
        It would truly be a mistake to hire a MALE to direct. Can’t wait, and in
        these times, I don’t care if it’s rated X ! The book alone was X, and
        if underage read it, that’s the parent’s fault, so going to see it would
        even be more off limits to underage. I have all 3 books, and the
        CD ! Don’t ruin it. I hope E.L. James sees this !

      • LOL says:

        Her regular DoP is Seamus McGarvey.

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