×

’50 Shades of Grey’ Finds Helmer in 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.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Rita And Tom Hanks Coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After Coronavirus Diagnosis in Australia

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home in the U.S. after they revealed they had contracted coronavirus and were quarantined in Australia. Hanks gave an update on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking everyone who had helped them in Australia and assuring people that they are still isolating themselves in the U.S. “Hey, folks…We’re home now [...]

  • Film Comment Magazine Goes on Hiatus

    Film Comment Magazine to Go on Hiatus as Film at Lincoln Center Lays Off Half of Staff

    Many companies are being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Film at Lincoln Center is the latest organization to have to lay off employees and pause some of their operations. On Friday, executive director Lesli Klainberg released a memo announcing that the center had to furlough or lay off about half of its [...]

  • "Birds of Prey" egg sandwich

    'Birds of Prey' Actor Bruno Oliver Recreates Harley Quinn's Famous Sandwich

    When actor Bruno Oliver booked the role of short order cook Sal in “Birds of Prey: (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” he had no idea how significant Sal and his breakfast sandwich were to the story. “You couldn’t tell from the audition necessarily and as actors, we always worry about our scenes [...]

  • Minyan

    'Minyan': Film Review

    Best known for the unexpectedly soul-shattering San Francisco suicide doc “The Bridge,” indie filmmaker Eric Steel came out and came of age in 1980s New York at a moment just before AIDS devastated the city’s gay community. Such timing must have been surreal, to assume something so liberating about one’s own identity, only to watch [...]

  • Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches

    Film New Roundup: Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches North American Distribution

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Queen’s Corgi” finds a home, the Overlook Film Festival is postponed and the California Film Commission adjusts its tax credit rules due to the coronavirus. ACQUISITION Freestyle Digital Media has acquired North American rights to the animated family comedy feature “The Queen’s Corgi,” and plans to make it available on DVD and to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content