Seven years after the first Fifty Shades of Grey movie came out, Dakota Johnson is speaking out about what her experience filming the franchise was really like in Vanity Fair. But first, it’s worth noting that Dakota refers to Fifty Shades as “those big naked movies.” And to that I say, don’t we all?
In the cover story, Dakota says the main reason she took the role of Anastasia Steele is because she is “a sexual person” and wanted to explore the themes that author E. L. James masterfully crafted in the original book series. But none of that really got to happen….
“I signed up to do a very different version of the film we ended up making,” Dakota told the magazine. She named the studio, director, and E. L. James (whose real name is Erika) as the reason.
“[Erika] had a lot of creative control, all day, every day, and she just demanded that certain things happen,” explained Dakota. “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 later continued: “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.”
But even with the challenges, Dakota said she knew from the audition that the movies were going to be significant. “When I auditioned for that movie, I read a monologue from Persona and I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be really special.’”
Dakota also mentioned that “there were a lot of different disagreements” and the filming process “became something crazy” and “was tricky,” especially after her original costar Charlie Hunnam dropped out due to a scheduling conflict. (He was replaced by Jamie Dornan.) But ultimately, Dakota is “proud of what we made” and has no regrets—for the most part. “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.”
Overall, though, Dakota says the experience was pretty good, but still…interesting. “Jamie and I were treated really well,” she said. “Erika is a very nice woman, and she was always kind to me and I am grateful she wanted me to be in those movies.…It was great for our careers. So amazing. So lucky. But it was weird. So, so weird.”
Christen is the associate news editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers all things around pop culture, celebrity, and things happening in the world. Previously, she was a features reporter at the Chicago Tribune where she specialized in lifestyle and culture topics like health, dating and relationships, parenting, home, race and more.