No matter how you feel about Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s everywhere. This series blew up the minute it got published, and with one more movie on the way, the Fifty Shades madness shows no signs of slowing down. Ever since E.L. James wrote her magnum opus Twilight fan fiction and published it under the name Fifty Shades of Grey, renaming Bella and Edward Ana and Christian, women of all ages have been all about this series. Personally, I don’t really understand the hype. I even sat down to watch the first movie after I was dragged to go see it. The first movie was a lesson in movie hell for me. Not only was it bad, it was bad because it was boring, which is not what you’d expect from a movie about a red room of pain. I didn’t think twice about this series until Fifty Shades Darker came out, and I was again dragged to go see it. Strangely, Fifty Shades Darker was a better movie because it didn’t take itself quite so seriously.
This led me to go and find out more about the Fifty Shades series. While the series itself might not be my cup of tea, I can appreciate a series that gets generations of women reading. I can also appreciate a series written by a woman garnering massive levels of success, especially from a fanfic. While I wish more than anything that the story that transcended the fan fiction community wasn’t Fifty Shades of Grey, I’m willing to accept that this is the world I live in. If nothing else, the behind-the-scenes dirt on this series is actually really interesting, to the point where I wouldn’t mind seeing a movie about the making of these movies. Here are fifteen of the most interesting things I found out from my journey into the world of Fifty Shades of Grey.
15. A Spy Got Caught Sneaking Onto The Set Of Fifty Shades Darker
Shooting a movie comes with its own sets of ups and downs, and there are probably some challenges to making a movie that we wouldn’t think of. One of those things is the basic concept of security. If you’re like me and live in a big city, where movies are being shot everywhere, movie shoots are sort of commonplace. However, for those who are starstruck by a certain movie might find themselves trying to sneak onto the set for whatever reason.
Director James Foley told a story to Cosmopolitan about a fan sneaking onto the set that’s kind of funny. “There were a lot of security people. You just got used to them so it didn’t seem strange, and the fans were great. Although, I did hear a story about a woman who lied and said she was a PA. She snuck on set and started doing little manual things like putting Cokes in the cooler. Finally somebody started a conversation with her, and something seemed weird, and we discovered that she was a spy for a fan Twitter.” Luckily, everything turned out okay.
14. One Scene Was Too Graphic For The Movies
Anyone who’s even heard of the Fifty Shades series knows that the books get really graphic, so it stands to reason that the movies would as well. The problem with that lies in the content itself: some things in the books were simply too explicit to be shown. While the second movie only cut things down for time, the first movie had to cut things out for content. One scene was never even considered for adaptation in the movie, and I’m sure every fan of the series knows what that scene is: the tampon foreplay scene. For the uninitiated, the tampon scene is by far one of the most controversial, especially when you consider the series used to be a Twilight fanfic with vampires in it.
13. Jamie Dornan Did Some Hands-On Research
When you’re an actor, you need to prepare for your role. If you’re planning to play a politician, you learn about politics, or if you’re going to be spending a lot of time out on the water, you might spend some time on boats to get more familiar with what to do while you’re on one. When your character is a dominant and you’re going to be spending a lot of your time participating in BDSM scenes, it stands to reason that you’ll need to learn about that. Jaime Dornan made sure that he was educated on the subject by spending time in a London sex dungeon to try and understand the mindset of Christian Grey better. He also discovered that the life of a dominant is most definitely not for him.
12. Fifty Shades Darker Only Cut Things For Time
When you’re adapting a book, many fans of that book want the director to get every single detail of that book into the movie. However, that’s simply not possible for a few reasons. One reason why is that there are some things that work very well for a book, but don’t translate well to a film. Another reason is that there simply isn’t time to get everything without making the movie too long. According to James Foley, that second reason is the only reason why they cut things from Fifty Shades Darker.
“There’s nothing we left out on purpose. It was all simply about time. The movie’s two hours. When you go to edit, you can’t see everything [as an audience might]. You look at it and it seems pretty good. Then you screen it for an audience and it kind of lags in places, so you say, ‘Oh, why did I leave that in there?’ And you change it.” If you’re wondering about the ice cream scene, it might end up in the director’s cut or something, so there’s that to look forward to.
11. Love Scenes Are Closed Set
Not only were the sex scenes closed set, they were filmed in total privacy. James Foley sat down with Cosmopolitan to talk about how he filmed the scenes. “Sex scenes are always closed set, which just means you’re down to the minimum number of people in the room. And since the camera’s on a big crane, you remotely control it, so even the camera operator is not in the room. It’s just myself, the [assistant director], and the camera. And then of course you stop, and hair and makeup comes in and pretties everybody up. I purposely made a decision to be very exact in what I was gonna do beforehand, draw storyboards, and then go to the actors and say, ‘OK, this is exactly what I want to do.'” That’s one way to make shooting some very awkward scenes a lot less awkward.
10. There Are Rules About Jamie Dornan’s Private Parts, But He Was Open To Showing Off, Too
If you’re at all familiar with how movies are rated, you might have a general idea of what movies are and aren’t allowed to show. For example, G rated movies can show strictly family friendly material, PG movies can show cartoon violence and things like that, while rated R movies are allowed to show explicit sexual situations and violence.
In order for the Fifty Shades movies to be rated R and not NC-17 and allowed to be shown in theaters, the sex scenes depicted in the books needed to be shown in a specific way so it wasn’t too explicit, but explicit enough to actually be accurate to the book’s description. However, if Jamie Dornan had his way, he’d have been pretty open to showing off even more than he ended up showing off in the movies. Considering his character is a high powered businessman with a sex dungeon who ends up in unbelievable sexual situations, that’s really saying something. “Showing penis was definitely an option; nobody ever said ‘do it’ or ‘don’t do it.’ We set up shots not thinking about that and there were a couple of times when it came really close. But that wasn’t on purpose. It was just where the camera was,” said James Foley.
9. The Intimate Scenes Were Giggle-Worthy
Sex scenes are among the most difficult scenes to shoot, simply because of the nature of what you’re doing. Sex on film is supposed to be depicting one of the most intimate things you can do with another person, but actually filming sex is really awkward and weird. Most actors who talk about filming sex scenes have brought this up. However, according to James Foley, the sex scenes were actually fun to shoot. “The sex scenes by definition are going to be less fun than other scenes. But in this case, they were the best experience I ever had. When we did the sex stuff, it’s always kind of a little bit tense and people get shy — but then one of the other of them would giggle, and it was all OK, and it wasn’t tense anymore. Some of [that] spilled into the movie. I was watching again last night: When he spanks her, she giggles a little bit.”
8. The Film Is Banned In Malaysia
Just because certain scenes are okay to show here doesn’t mean they’re okay to show everywhere. Different countries have different rating standards and different opinions about what’s acceptable to show on the big screen. According to a report from OK! Magazine, the Fifty Shades franchise is actually banned in Malaysia for this reason. The films actually don’t pass Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board because they deemed the film to be legitimate pornography. They also said that the BDSM scenes were indicative that the main characters didn’t have a “natural” sexual interest in each other. Regardless of what you think about the nature of the films, censorship isn’t the answer. Actually, having these films and books has allowed for a very real conversation about the nature of BDSM relationships because the representation, no matter how flawed, is there.
7. Kim Kardashian Hosted A Screening On February 3rd, 2015
The Fifty Shades series has attracted millions of fans, a lot of whom you’d be surprised actually are fans. Personally, I know fans of this series that are the opposite of what you’d expect, and I’m sure others have had the same experience. One fan of the series that I wasn’t expecting to be a fan is Kim Kardashian, who’s such a big fan that she actually hosted a screening of the first movie and said it was amazing. Another celebrity that I was surprised to find had a connection to the series was Lucy Hale, who actually auditioned for the role of Anastasia Steele before it ultimately went to Dakota Johnson. “There were some things that I was so embarrassed to be reading out loud, but it’s one of those things where you have to commit wholeheartedly or you’re going to make a fool of yourself,” she told Cosmopolitan in 2014.
6. The Spreader Bar Scene Was Actually Pretty Easy
Out of all the scenes of a movie that I would expect to be easy to shoot, the scene I would definitely not pick would be any scene involving a spreader bar. However, according to James Foley, that scene was actually among the easiest to film, if not the easiest. “I don’t know why it was the easiest, but it was. The day before, we had our BDSM expert there showing us how to do this and do that, and I thought, Man, this is gonna be hard tomorrow. And I don’t know what happened. I came to the set, Dakota’s in this great mood, like bouncing on the bed saying, ‘Let’s do this!’ And we did it very quickly, and [Dakota and Jamie] were having a very good time. I mean, she was just giggling all over the place. So that one was easy.”
5. Dakota Johnson Thought The Elevator Scene Was Hardest
Most of the sex scenes in Fifty Shades Darker were filmed with a lot of privacy. However, there’s one glaring exception: the elevator scene that made it into all of the trailers. That, according to James Foley, was one of the hardest scenes to film for the female lead, Dakota Johnson. “It was a fake elevator. It was just a wall back there and we were all out here, so it wasn’t too bad in terms of being cramped. But it was in terms of Dakota getting into it. [She] said that it was the hardest scene for her to shoot. I was so surprised because it wasn’t that explicit or anything, but she said she’s surrounded by these extras, these strangers.” The lesson here is that privacy goes a really long way, and filming sex scenes for a movie is no exception.
4. Victoria Beckham Bought Her Mom A Copy
We all want a close relationship with our moms. We go out of way to share the things we like with our moms, so they can get a peek into our world and vice versa. However, I don’t think I’d ever go as far as Victoria Beckham did when she gave her mom a copy of the first book after she was done reading it. Personally, there are just some things I wouldn’t share with my mom, and my penchant for reading a book about BDSM sex wouldn’t be one of them, even if I were actually a fan of the series. Dakota Johnson has two very famous parents who went to see the movies, and regardless of how proud I was to be in the movies and how much I stood behind my work, it would always be a little weird that my parents also saw me in that position. However, not everyone feels the same way about this as I do, so more power to those like Beckham who can share the Fifty Shades series with their moms.
3. Dakota Johnson And Jamie Dornan Really Do Have Chemistry
Since Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson were cast as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, rumors have been going around that the two hate each other. People were doing in-depth analyses of their behavior at interviews and on red carpets to support the theory that these two actors couldn’t stand each other. However, according to director James Foley, that couldn’t be further from the truth. “The actors genuinely like each other. The rumors of them not having chemistry are totally bizarre to me. Now, what the first movie was, I leave to others to judge that, but I sure think they have it now. I think that comes from the time they spent on the [first] publicity tour, after doing the movie. They really kind of bonded. And they found out that they make each other laugh. And so there was a lot of giggling.” Weirdly enough, there have been rumors going around that the two are dating now, so it all depends on how you interpret those non-verbal cues.
2. The Author Was Very Hands On
The first movie’s shoot was plagued with rumors that Sam Taylor-Johnson, the director of the first movie, hated the book’s author, E.L. James. There were stories of the two clashing all the time, that were basically confirmed when the second movie hired on James Foley to be the director instead of her. However, he had a totally different experience with her:
“She had her own little producer’s village and she was there every day. I really respected her for that. Like, she was looking after her baby. I made a point, knowing that there was some friction on the first movie, of really getting to know her as best as I could before I signed on, and I got a connection with her, this lady from the U.K. who is very liberal, very funny, and very respectful. It suits me. There were days when I wouldn’t even see her all day, and there were other days she’d come up and literally whisper in my ear, ‘You know, in the book in this scene, she said this instead of that.’ Maybe Dakota would change the line slightly or something like that. And so then she’d say, ‘That’s all I’m saying.’ And then she’d go away. Sometimes she’d say something and I’d say, ‘Good idea!’ And sometimes I’d say, ‘No I don’t think that’s going to work in the movie.’ And she’d say, ‘OK.’ It was not one moment of a fight. And we’re pals now.”
1. Could There Be A Fifty Shades Miniseries?
We’re getting an adaptation of the books through these movies, but that’s not enough for some fans. According to James Foley, it might not be enough for him and E.L. James either. He thinks that she could make a miniseries to show everything in the books and expand on the world of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. “I suggested to Erika that, in a couple years, she could do a miniseries, like on Netflix or Amazon, and expand on [the story] a lot since there’s so much in the books. Because I think she still itches for that. She understands movie-making, understands that certain things have to be taken out just because of the pace — but I think she’d like it if it could be a much more complete thing.” For those fans who want that immersive experience, more power to you, but I think the rest of us are happy with the movies.