Most of the steamy buzz surrounding the film adaptation of E.L. James’ erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” remains cloaked in rumor. What producer Michael De Luca confirmed at CinemaCon is that Universal and Focus Features are not ready to talk casting yet, and that what you imagine when you read something and what you actually put on the screen in this case are two different things. Don’t expect a literal adaptation of the novel, he said: “the movie will be different from the book,” which is “literal by design…The cinematic language doesn’t have to be explicit.”
Though Pettyfer has not been offered the role of Anastasia Steele’s dashing and controlling deflower-er Christian Grey, Van Sant cast him in his audition tape (no video unfortunately!). The studio likes the 23-year-old actor–he’s about to star in Universal’s remake of the 1981 young romance “Endless Love.”
Screenwriter Kelly Marcel — who wrote the upcoming Disney drama “Saving Mr. Banks” and is a writer on TV’s “Terra Nova” — is currently wrapping up a draft, but no word yet on who will officially direct “Grey.” Van Sant, whose filmography has traversed both the arthouse (“My Own Private Idaho,” “Elephant”) and the mainstream (“Milk,” “Promised Land”), isn’t a bad choice. He combines tastefulness, filmmaking chops, bravery in the realm of the intimate, and has worked well throughout his career with young actors. He’s respected and could lend the otherwise sensational and salacious material some needed prestige.