‘Fifty Shades of Grey': Dakota Johnson Is Strapped In, Hunnam or No Hunnam

'Fifty Shades of Grey': Dakota Johnson Is Strapped In, Hunnam or No Hunnam

Universal and Focus have hired Oscar-nominated writer Patrick Marber (“Closer”) to polish Kelly Marcel's screenplay

Despite the sands shifting around her, Dakota Johnson is 100 percent committed to “Fifty Shades of Grey” — and the filmmakers are equally firm on keeping their Anastasia Steele.

Though popular lore had it that intense chemistry with Charlie Hunnam won Johnson the part, the filmmakers are moving ahead with the “Ben and Kate” actress, a person familiar with the situation told TheWrap.

Hunnam abruptly quit the project over the weekend, citing his TV schedule, though multiple sources have told TheWrap that Hunnam underestimated the attention he would receive from the media and rabid “Shades” fans.

See photos: 20 of the Buzziest ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Casting Choices

Anxiety and pressure are to be expected with a movie of this magnitude. But unlike Hunnam, Johnson knows what it's like to live under a microscope, having grown up in the public eye as the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson.

Now, whoever replaces Hunnam will be required to have chemistry with her, rather than the other way around. Multiple sources stress that the filmmakers will build the rest of the cast around her rather than let the new Christian Grey dictate the ensemble, which is expected to include Jennifer Ehle (“Zero Dark Thirty”) as Anastasia's mother.

Also read: Inside Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson's '50 Shades of Grey’ Casting: Chemistry Tests to the Dotted Line

As they go back to the drawing board to re-cast Christian Grey, the producers have hired Oscar-nominated screenwriter Patrick Marber to polish Kelly Marcel's screenplay, an individual familiar with the project told TheWrap.

Marber, who has worked with “Fifty Shades” director Sam Taylor-Johnson before on the 2008 short film “Love You More,” has been tasked with further developing the characters in James’ steamy erotic sensation. It's not uncommon for high-profile projects such as “Fifty Shades” to recruit top-tier writers for last-minute script work as production nears.

Also read: Charlie Hunnam ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Shocker: How the World Reacted

It remains unclear whether Hunnam had already notified Universal of his intention to leave “Fifty Shades” by the time the studio hired Marber to polish the script, or whether his hiring was a last-ditch attempt to keep Hunnam on board.

Marber's hiring may also be a sign that the filmmakers knew they had to revamp the script a bit to make the project more actor-friendly. The “Fifty Shades” brand is the real star of the movie, so it's success isn't likely to be cast-dependent. While an established actor would certainly be preferred, it's entirely possible that an unknown could be cast. After all, it'd be hard for the book's vocal fan base to criticize an actor with a limited body of work.

Also read: How ‘Fifty Shades of Grey's’ Charlie Hunnam Casting Debacle May Help the Film

Several actors, including “Arrow” star Stephen Amell, have balked at playing Christian Grey because there's not much to the character as written in the book.

“I didn't find [Christian's] character to be totally redeeming,” Amell told Access Hollywood at the Monte-Carlo TV Festival earlier this year. “I actually didn't find him to be that interesting … Nothing about Christian Grey really spoke to me.”

“Fifty Shades of Grey” remains on track — for now — to start production in November in advance of its Aug. 1, 2014 release date. Should production push to early 2014, the movie could be ready in time for the holidays, which may even help it fare better at the box office, as it currently opens the same day as Marvel's “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

WME-repped Marber has experience dealing with sordid material, having adapted his own play “Closer” into the 2004 Mike Nichols-directed feature that starred Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law and Natalie Portman. He also received an Oscar nomination for writing Richard Eyre's 2006 thriller “Notes on a Scandal,” which also dealt with taboo sex.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of Marber's hiring.

  • kacy50

    Hell no, she has got to go! A lot of fans are pissed that she's Ana and this will ruin it. They need to recast the role of Ana if they don't want this to be a disaster.

  • katie

    F* that. i'm not see in this movie with her in it.

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  • Ale

    They haven't yet understood that the weakest point in their cast choice was Dakota and not Charlie…I'm not spending a euro to go and watch her.

  • Jody

    Christian Grey fell in love for this girl…She NEEDS TO GO

  • Charity

    Terrible… Terrible choice for Ana!! Dakota doesn't even fit the look profile at all! I'm seriously disappointed!

  • Stephen

    Where I do believe in the freedom of speech and freedom of the press, it disturbs me that these books are being made into movies. The storyline only encourages, inspires, and rewards dangerous and shallow behavior.

    Dangerous behavior 1) The woman doesn't tell anyone where she is going and whom she is going with. She just disappears to go have sex with a guy she has never met and doesn't know much about. 49 other women have done this and have died by the Green River killer. The last monster to come into the headlines held three girls chained in his basement for 10 years. Mr. Gray exhibits all the traits of being a monster. But if you think that he wouldn't do such a thing because he is rich and famous, just look true stories for yourself.

    Dangerous behavior 2) She should have requested Mr. Gray to get an aids test. He is at high risk with the large amount of partners he has had.

    Dangerous behavior 3) BDSM can be risky. There have been injuries and deaths because this behavior wasn't monitored (again check for yourself) There should be a warning with these movies and books to not repeat some of these actions.

    Shallow: Our leading lady has had no relationships before and yet throws herself at the first rich guy she sees. “I know him, he's rich”. Not that he's compassionate, thoughtful, creative, intelligent or caring.

    Shallow: He doesn't want a relationship, he only wants sex, she says “ok”. He gives her gifts, but not tokens of affections (he makes that clear). If not affectionate gifts, then they are payment for her sex. She is a prostitute.

    Shallow: Our leading lady isn't intelligent, can't hold a descent conversation, doesn't contribute to society, isn't creative, funny, or have a back bone. She doesn't do what she says she's going to do (she doesn't go on the pill, doesn't use the smart phone, and doesn't use the safe words) nor can she communicate with him how she feels because she thinks he'll stop having sex. She's boring and weak willed.

    Lack of story: Let's take the sex out of the book for one moment. There isn't a plot line, no drama, no humor, no plot twists, no depth of character, and no character development. It is written as if done by a twelve year old. The characters are hollow, shallow, and two dimensional.

    I have a daughter. I want nothing but the best for her in her life. She knows how to play the flute, the violin, runs cross country, play softball, and goes to campfire. She is creative, thoughtful, imaginative, smart, funny, caring, giving and has placed the needs of others above her own time and again. I would hate to see her opportunity for success (and that of any woman) be destroyed by becoming someone's sex toy. (I do hope my daughter does have a great sex life with someone she cares about, but not to the point of losing her identity and or her opportunity in life to be successful on her own.)

    It has come to my attention that enough individuals don't want this movie made. If it is then there will be protests at every theatre that play it until the theatre has it removed. And, although some couples will go see this movie to get some ideas on how to spice up their sex life, the only reason a single guy would watch this will be to watch the actress get naked, be tied up and be taken advantage of. Every theatre that does run this, will run the risk of their showroom becoming equivalent to an adult movie theater. The actress that does this movie will only be known as the actress that is willing to spread her legs (no acting required). If this is released, it should go straight to DVD, sold at Lover's and be given the warnings of the above risks that may be involved with risky and dangerous behavior.

    Personally, I don't think these movies should be made. It gives an impression that all women have to do to solve all of their problems is to find a rich guy. It suggests that women are stupid and weak willed. It promotes dangerous and risky activity. It belittles women as shallow, hollow, and that they don't deserve a life, success, or even a mind of their own. I believe that all proceeds of these books should have gone to support foundations that help battered women. You may repost this to help discourage and perhaps even stop these movies.

    • Suzy

      We understand what you are saying….but its a book, its the person who reads the book to take it from there. A.) become a sex slave to a sexy rich stranger or B.) carry on and read another book.
      Good Luck with raising your daughter I'm sure you are a perfect man