Dakota Johnson has Fifty Shades of Gray to thank for launching her into superstardom, something the actress is grateful for, but making the trilogy was “psychotic.” In an interview with vanity fairJohnson gets as real as she can about the chaos on set.
“I’m a sexual person, and when I’m interested in something, I want to know so much about it,” she begins. “That’s why I did those big naked movies.”
However, Johnson says she “signed up to do a very different version of the film we ended up making.” When asked if the studio or directors were the issue, Johnson replies it was a “combo” — “It was also the author of the books.”
EL James (who goes by Erika) penned the best-selling novels and “had a lot of creative control, all day, every day,” recalls Johnson. The actress was only 23 when she was cast as Anastasia Steele opposite Charlie Hunnam’s Christian Grey. But Hunnam dropped out citing scheduling conflicts, which infuriated James. The author scrapped the entire script written by playwright Patrick Marber.
“I was young… So it was scary,” Johnson explains of the contract she signed. “It just became something crazy.”
Johnson adds, “There were a lot of different disagreements. 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.”
When asked if she regrets making the films, Johnson says, “No. I don’t think it’s a matter of regret. If I had known… 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. It would’ve been like, ‘Oh, this is psychotic.’ But no, I don’t regret it.”
Jamie Dornan ended up replacing Hunnam. During the first film’s press tour, the internet was convinced Dornan and Johnson were either dating or hated each other. Neither was true.
“There was never a time when we didn’t get along,” Johnson says of her co-star. “I know it’s weird, but he’s like a brother to me. I love him so, so, so much. And we were really there for each other. We had to really trust each other and protect each other.”
Johnson explains she and Dornan “needed to be a team” because they were “doing the weirdest things for years.”
Adding to the chaotic environment was that Sam Taylor-Johnson, who directed the first film, did not come back for the second or third film.
“As a female, she had brought a softer perspective. James Foley came on to direct, and he’s an interesting man. It was different doing those bizarre things with a man behind the camera. Just a different energy. There are things that I still cannot say because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s career and I don’t want to damage anybody’s reputation, but both Jamie and I were treated really well. 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,” Johnson diplomatically shares.
“Look, it was great for our careers,” she concludes. “So amazing. So lucky. But it was weird. So, so weird.”