Dakota Johnson Remembers Filming ‘Fifty Shades’ With E.L. James as a ‘Psychotic’ Experience

“It was always a battle,” the actress revealed

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“Fifty Shades of Grey” star Dakota Johnson opened up about her experience making the film trilogy in a cover story interview with “Vanity Fair.”

“I’m a sexual person, and when I’m interested in something, I want to know so much about it,” she began in the interview. “That’s why I did those big naked movies.” Unfortunately, she feels the final cut of “Fifty Shades” and its sequels weren’t what she bargained for. “I signed up to do a very different version of the film we ended up making,” she said.

Johnson, who landed the role of Anastasia “Ana” Steele, clarified that the problem came from a combination of the studio, directors and author of the books E.L. James, who goes by Erika and was very creatively active on the productions.

“She had a lot of creative control, all day, every day, and she just demanded that certain things happen,” Johnson said. “There were parts of the books that just wouldn’t work in a movie, like the inner monologue, which was at times incredibly cheesy. It wouldn’t work to say out loud.”

“It was always a battle. Always,” she continued. “When I auditioned for that movie, I read a monologue from ‘Persona’ (1966) and I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be really special.’”

When Charlie Hunnam, who was supposed to play Christian Grey, dropped out of the project, James was so upset that she ditched playwright Patrick Marber’s script. At that time, Johnson had already signed a contract for the three films.

“I was young. I was 23. So it was scary,” she said. “It just became something crazy.”

“There were a lot of different disagreements,” she added. “I haven’t been able to talk about this truthfully ever, because you want to promote a movie the right way, and I’m proud of what we made ultimately and everything turns out the way it’s supposed to, but it was tricky.”

Jamie Dornan filled in for Hunnam as half of the film’s main BDSM-inclined couple. He, Johnson and the film’s first director kept Marber’s script in mind during production.

“We’d do the takes of the movie that Erika wanted to make, and then we would do the takes of the movie that we wanted to make,” Johnson said. “The night before, I would rewrite scenes with the old dialogue so I could add a line here and there. It was like mayhem all the time.” 

According to Johnson, the negotiation of Anastasia’s sexual contract by Steele and Grey is the one Marber scene that made it into the first film, and she described it as “the best scene in the whole movie.”

Johnson clarified, though, that she doesn’t regret making the films.

“If I had known at the time that’s what it was going to be like, I don’t think anyone would’ve done it,” she said. “It would’ve been like, ‘Oh, this is psychotic.’ But no, I don’t regret it.”

“Look, it was great for our careers,” she added. “So amazing. So lucky. But it was weird. So, so weird.”

She also said she believes the films would have a tricky time getting made in today’s climate regarding sexual politics. “But what’s wrong with them?” she mused. “It’s about a specific sexual dynamic that is really real for a lot of people.”