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‘Fifty Shades of Grey’: What Kind of Movie Could It Be, With What Cast?

'Fifty Shades of Grey': What Kind of Movie Could It Be, With What Cast?

The only way EL James' notoriously erotic "Fifty Shades of Grey" will ever wind up a half-way decent movie will be if the filmmakers take the high road.

Going with Universal co-chairman Donna Langley and Focus Features production exec Jeb Brody, who both successfully wooed Brit editor-turned-novelist James, who sought JK Rowling-like control over her project–was a step in the right direction. Given the rumored acquisition cost of some $5 million, the movie would need some names to pull audiences. And the only way to get stars on the order of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in "Eyes Wide Shut," which narrowly skirted an NC-17 in its day, is to promise top-notch quality via an A-list screenwriter and director.

While the novel started out as fan fiction inspired by Edward Cullen and Bella Swan in "Twilight," a much older vampire frozen at age 17 who woos a virginal everygirl teen, James' novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" tells the improbable romance of virginal college coed Anastasia Steele and young Seattle Master of the Universe Christian Grey. But while she seeks a loving relationship, he wants her to sign a contract stipulating rules of S & M engagement. The book is explicitly erotic as this smart and gorgeous but inexperienced young woman sexually comes of age under the guidance of this complicated and damaged young man, who is also in love, but prefers spanking, role play and bondage to "vanilla" sex.  

It's easy to see why this erotic trilogy is a huge bestseller, but the first book, at least, is often repetitive and silly. How much intimacy will audiences tolerate? It will take a clever writer and director and charismatic actors to pull this off. There are so many ways this could go wrong.

There are ideas buried in this book about the power dynamics between men and women and the potency of S & M role playing that could prove fascinating in the right hands. Also, intimate sex described in detail in a novel can be shown in a movie–and much can be implied.

I could see fearless Ryan Gosling, who mined similar terrain in "Blue Valentine" and "Crazy Stupid Love," as the controlling but vulnerable master, with coltish tomboy Jennifer Lawrence ("Hunger Games") as the awkward innocent submissive with strongly-held values, ready to rock her sexual world. Chris Pine and Blake Lively also come to mind.

Part of the book's fantasy fun is Grey's Cinderella makeover of the penniless college grad, who blossoms under his attentions, flying in his personal jet and helicopter, as well as being gifted with a snazzy new wardrobe, computer and car. This is a case where a mediocre book (see: "Twilight," "Bridges of Madison County," "Love Story," or "The Notebook") could be much improved in movie form. "Pretty Woman" is one watered-down model of how this movie romance could go.

These were mainstream offerings, though, and I suspect this will not go that route. Movie crowds tend to avoid movies that make them sexually uncomfortable. That's another reason why this NC-17 material should go upscale and arthouse–that's the group that can handle this stuff, and might even appreciate it. Many women, especially, are starved for movies about emotional relationships.  Those who assume that this will be cheesy smutty trashy porn may be surprised.

On Facebook, Chris Willman asked me: "Would a halfway-self-respecting actor like these two do this project? (I probably don't want to know the answer.)"
        
Anne Thompson: "Well, it depends on who Focus Features (a classy label) puts together as a creative team. They'd have to be top notch to land those actors. If done well this could be box office hit. It's a risky high-wire act at best."

Willman: "No matter how popular the books are, wouldn't this be a losing proposition for A-list talent, if the perception is that it's soft-core smut for over-30 ladies? How much can Focus class it up? Who would be the modern-day equivalent of Adrian Lyne?"

Thompson: "Many bad books have been turned into better movies–it's an age-old Hollywood tradition. The romance is alive and well. The torrid language and even the explicit sex in the book need only be shown or implied on film."

Glenn Kenny: "So, Anne, unless I'm mistaken, what you're saying is, that there's a good movie to be made from "50 Shades of Grey," and that, IF that good movie is made, it will be a spectacular domestic box office flop. Day-um."

Thompson: "It's risky but it could go either way. 'Sex and the City' was a hit, when they hit it right. Many variables."        

Willman: "I'm trying to think of examples of a trashy novel being made into a good or great prestige movie (not to be argumentative, but just as an exercise). What I'm coming up with is… "Bridges of Madison County." And I'd have to watch it again."
        
Thompson: "'Gone with the Wind,' 'Bridget Jones Diary,' 'Fried Green Tomatoes,' 'The Notebook,' 'The Shining' and 'Carrie' (among the movies adapted from Stephen King novels), 'The Hunt for Red October' and 'Patriot Games,' among the movies adapted from Tom Clancy novels, and the 'Twilight' films were better than their source, if not exactly good."
        
Kenny: "Hmm. What if the precise appeal of the material is such that 'classing it up,' or applying a level of refinement, is precisely what needs NOT to be done in order to retain the popularity that calls for a movie version?"

Here's the inevitable parody.

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Comments

RIPOpie

CHARLIE HUNNAM, Please oh please!!!
Runners up- Chris Hemsworth or Iam Somerhalder
For girls… I could see Jennifer Lawrence pulling it off.
Did I mention Charlie Hunnam?

silver

my absolute favorites for the roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele of Fifty Shades of Grey are Bradley Cooper and Renne Zellweger. irrespective of their present ages' they are well in a position to look much younger, besides the dialogues/emails are almost as if written for them.

wew

camilla belle for anastasia

amy

soooo Charlie Hunnam! woot woot!

Nat

Definitely Charlie Hunnam

Dustin

Armie Hammer always shows up in my head as Christian for some reason…

leya

felicity

LEYA

MATT BOMER AND FELICIA JONES. Hes simply beautiful has the perfect hair, perfect jaw line, body and felicia is perfect for the role

natalie

when i read the book, i was thinking of Camilla Belle to be Anatasia and Ryan Phillipe to be Christian..please dont let Kristen Stewart plays the role of Anatasia.. she's less emotional..she never cry before.. i supposed.

Sue

I think Henry Cavill will be a fitting Christen Grey

Lrhill

If they take the high road, it was useless. The reason people like it is the down and dirty.

kimberley4garrett

garrett hedlund for christain !!!!!perfect sexy, cute, intense eyes ,

qrsmom

I agree Charlie Hunnam. Yum. He is the only face I saw when I read the books.

Lotte

Henry Cavill by the looks of it…. Superman!!

http://henry-cavill.info/index.php/henry-cavill-in-discussions-with-fifty-shades-of-grey-producer-michael-de-luca/

Therese

I have just finished the trilogy and I must say that the only male actor that came to mind was Scott Speedman. The eyes, the hair, the body, the everything!!! Even though he is older then Christen Grey's character, he could still masterfully pull this one off. I'm not to sure if he would be up for full on nude scenes as suggested by some producers, but if done tactfully and suductively suggestive "OH MY' . I can just visualize his torso in old faded torn jeans; with the button undone……”MY OH MY”

Natalie

Henry Cavill…hands down! He's proven in his past roles he can play all the fifty shades of Grey. Plus he has the gorgeous looks, perfect body, has the grey eyes and he's 28yo. Need I say more? Oh, and he's not too widely known which is good. Once an actor is known as a vampire or any other famous role it will just ruin the movie.

Loren

I pictured Scott Speedman as my Christian Grey.

Nicole

I think Bradley Cooper is a beautiful Christian Grey

Kaj

Chris Pine is perfect for it. He is godly. He perfectly reflects the physical characteristics of Christian Grey, and he can be dominating, funny, strong, soft, sexy, all FIFTY. I've read all three books and I knoe he's the one for the fucked-up CEO madly in love.

SUSIE

WOW, I JUST REALIZED THAT HENRY CAVILL WAS THE FIRST CHOICE FOR TWILIGHT, BUT HE WAS DEEMED TOO OLD BY THE TIME THE MOVIE TOOK OFF. IT IS PERFECT BECAUSE FIFTY SHADES OF GREY WAS BASED OF TWILIGHT FANFICTION. I HAVE ALSO SEEN HENRY BE SWEET AND NAUGHTY IN THE TUDORS. HE HAS THE HAIR, EYES, FACE, BODY, CHEST HAIR, AND HE IS RIPPEEEEEEDDDDD. HE IS AMAZING!

MONICA

CHRIS PINE IS OK, BUT HENRY CAVILL IS KING. HE MAKES ME SWOON!!!!! HE HAS THE HAIR, THE EYES, THE CHEST HAIR. HE IS DREAMY CHRISTIAN GREY!

MACY

http://www.google.com/imgres?um=1&hl=en&client=firefox-a&sa=N&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1680&bih=828&tbm=isch&tbnid=7Cq6wMC5f9TohM:&imgrefurl=http://www.johnbierly.com/category/movies/page/2&docid=yNJ1L8VLvInFPM&imgurl=http://www.johnbierly.com/wp-content/uploads/Henry-Cavill-new-superman_320.jpg&w=320&h=480&ei=fOfIT8j7OoK29QT619GuDw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=389&vpy=421&dur=52&hovh=275&hovw=183&tx=103&ty=173&sig=104888852895219014085&page=1&tbnh=142&tbnw=95&start=0&ndsp=34&ved=1t:429,r:27,s:0,i:131

I AGREE HENRY CAVILLLLLLLLLLLL! SO SEXY. FELICITY JONES WOULD BE AWESOME TOO.

LELY

DEFINITELY HENRY CAVILL, HE IS PURE PERFECTION. HE HAS THE NAUGHTY THING GOING FROM THE TUDORS AND HE LOOKS SWEET AS WELL. HE HAS EVERYTHING. FOR ANASTASIA, I LIKE FELICITY JONES, BELLA OR HEATHCOTE.

MJ

How about Scott Speedman for the part of Christian???

Becky

I think Chris Pine would make the perfect Christian Grey
http://www.listal.com/viewimage/860453

Tracy

Jonathan Rhys Meyers from the series The Tudors.

lynnett

This is who I think should play Christian,Ian Somerholder and for Ana,Nadia Bjorlin she fits Ana description perfect….

Theresa

It should definately be a hbo series. Shelley Hannig should play Ana Steele (from The Secret Circle) and Charlie Hunnam should play Christian Gey (from Sons of Anarchy) MMMH!

Kimmi

Josh Duhamel as Christian and Emmy Rossum as Anastatia.

sammie

i think they should cast people that we haven't heard of. that way we see them as these characters and not as the actors they are.

steph

NO MOVIE !!!!! make it into a series on HBO or MAXX – the books are AMAZING nd too exclusive for the big screen !! in my opinion.. i would like Matt Bomer or Ian Somerhalder as Mr. Grey !! <3
nd as for Anastasia Steele – someone like Emmy Rossum would be nice !!

Nel

Ian Somerhalder would be without a doubt a perfect Christian Grey and Kristen Stewart she already has the lip biting down.

Tabitha

Bradley Cooper would be a GREAT Christian Grey.

Beth

Garret Hedlund would be perfect for Christian Grey – he has the look and even copper colored hair!

jacmartol

MATT BOMER! He has such duality on White Collar – he can play the serious and silly Christian Grey so effortlessly. I don't think the casting of Ana is really on my mind because I feel like her character in the book is so lackluster. I think Shailene Woodley would be great for Ana – she's got the young naivety thing going on. But Matt would just sell Christian Grey. And he's so delicious. (yes I know he's gay – who cares – its ACTING!)

Felicia

Henry Cavill or William Levy for Christian and Lily Collins, Camilla Bell, or Christian Serratos as Ana. My top pick are Henry Cavill and Lily Collins. They would be perfect for these roles!

flower

Jim Sturgess for Christain! He was hot in Across the Universe…..

ARJUNA

As far as director, how about Patty Jenkins, or Same Mendes…..or Darren Aronofsky or, maybe Lisa Cholodenko. Simon Beaufoy to write the screenplay. Susanne Bier would also be a great choice to direct. All of these people along with Jennifer Lawrence and Ryan Gosling starring would elevate the source material.

Arjuna

Jennifer Lawrence and Ryan Gosling?…oh my…. YES!!. My two favorite (not to mention incredibly talented as well as hot) actors on the planet. If Lawrence and Gosling were to star I'd definetly pay good money to see it in the theater.

Ella

Henry Cavill as Christian!!

nia

The actor should be under 30,Tall,Mannerable(so british),Unassuming,Up and coming. It should not be someover over 30,too masculine,and short. I like Theo Jamesftom the british show Bedlam. He is under thirty,not too wellknown,copper-colored hair,tall,sexy,has a beautiful accentand looks stunning in a suit. He is perfect. The actress I would choose is older in real life than Ana but she looks 18,Felicity Jones.

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