Q&A: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Author E.L. James

Author E.L. James was a producer on the film that was made from her bestseller. With Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh, she discussed Jamie Dornan’s performance, why she chose Universal’s Focus Features to make the film, and whether or not the movie’s mix of plot and sex left her, uh, satisfied.

Ramin Setoodeh: Were you familiar with Jamie Dornan’s work when his name came up as a possibility to star in “Fifty Shades”? And why did you think he would be a good fit to play Christian?
E.L. James: I first saw Jamie onscreen in May 2013 when he played the terrifying Paul Spector in the BBC crime series “The Fall.” It was long before pre-production or casting for “Fifty Shades,” but he struck me at the time as a real contender for Christian Grey. He’s certainly good-looking enough, but it was his intensity that captured my attention; when he’s onscreen, it’s hard to take your eyes off him. He also has the youthfulness that’s essential to the character
of Christian.

RS: Now that you’ve seen the completed film, what do you think of Jamie’s performance?
ELJ: The way he slowly opens up in response to the challenge of Ana is touching and captivating. His performance captures both Christian’s confidence and his insecurity.

RS: One of the biggest challenges of adapting the film is, of course, translating the love scenes. Are you happy with the outcome?
ELJ: I was always concerned how the sex would be handled in the film. I wanted it to be tasteful and sexy, and I think we got there in the end.

RS: Every studio in Hollywood wanted this project. Why did you decide to go with Universal?
ELJ: I met some wonderful executives from different studios, and choosing between them was really difficult. In the end, I went with Universal because I trusted Donna Langley and her team to stay as faithful to the book as its millions of fans worldwide would expect.

RS: And being at Focus made the offer more appealing?
ELJ: Focus has a long tradition of bringing challenging content to the screen, so it seemed a natural fit.

RS: What was it about Jamie that made him sexy enough to play Christian?
ELJ: You have to ask?

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