‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Casts Its Consenting Adults


You may recall a bit of buzz last summer about a book trilogy called Fifty Shades of Grey. Originally Twilight fanfiction that got rewritten into its own series, the trilogy was dubbed “mommy porn” and centered on a billionaire businessman who liked BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism) and the virgin college graduate who “tamed” him.

All in all, I found the whole thing pretty disturbing. There are a couple bad lessons to be learned in Fifty Shades of Grey, and I suppose that doesn’t matter for the grown women reading it. But for the 16 – 25 year old girls who happened to pick it up, there’s a chance they took a couple of these things seriously.

  1. If you are the “right” woman, you can change a man — This is a terrible message. Just awful. Men (all people) are capable of change, but it should never be the goal of a relationship to “fix” someone. That’s just very unhealthy.
  2. If she’s having sex correctly, a woman’s body should produce multiple orgasms — That’s how it happened for Ana, so there’s something wrong with you if you’re not experiencing sex that way. Wrong. Basic sex ed combats this notion. All women’s bodies are different.
  3. The pure and virginal girl is more worthy than the other girls — This phenomenon was reinforced by Twilight, but it’s been around forever. Girls keep learning shame from pop culture.

Granted, as someone recently pointed out to me when I was ranting about these injustices, Fifty Shades of Grey is a story about two consenting adults, not a teenage girl and a grown man with over a century under his belt. Ana was 22 and Christian was a few years her senior, but that is a much healthier relationship. At least in that way (in other areas…eh).

I’ll hop off my soapbox now and tell you what you’re actually here for, which is that the roles of Christian and Ana have been cast after a year of speculation. Considering that Fifty Shades came from Twilight, some people were hoping for Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart together on screen again. I saw Ian Somerhalder’s name thrown around a lot. Emma Watson shut down rumors that she was going for the role last spring, and I know a lot of people were pushing for my beloved Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel).

Of course, none of those people were cast. The roles went to relative unknowns–as was the case for Twilight many moons ago. It’s just better that way. If they had miraculously gotten Pattinson to take the role, you would have never seen Christian Grey–you would have seen Edward Cullen. Unknowns have a ton to gain and nothing to lose from taking on roles like this.

So here are your stars:

1239567_10152202961219616_1618646841_nCharlie Hunnam as Christian Grey

Hunnam is actually British and his first major role was in the Channel 4 show Queer as Folk. If you do know him, you know him as Jax Teller on the show Sons of Anarchy on FX, a role for which he received a Critic’s Choice Television Award for Best Actor. He is 33 years old.

Hunnam has the build and the looks, but it remains to see if he has Christian’s “darkness” that Ana (and millions of women) found so captivating. He’ll also have to clean up well and look good in a suit, because Christian was always incredibly well groomed–it spoke to his need for control.

72616943Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele

I’ve actually loved Johnson ever since she played a small but memorable role in one of my favorite films ever, The Social Network (she was the Stanford girl who woke up in the morning with Justin Timberlake). The daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, she also had a short-lived sitcom called Ben and Kate on Fox last year and small roles in 21 Jump Street and The Five-Year Engagement.

Obviously, Johnson will be going brunette for the role. I’m not sure if Ana is in her wheelhouse because she’s always played very charismatic, bubbly women, and that’s definitely not Ana’s thing.

It remains to be seen how well this movie will do. You’d think it was a no-brainer considering how obsessed people got with the books, but reading an erotic novel in secret on your Kindle is different than standing in line to get into the film. Movies are much more public, and I’m wondering how that will factor into the commercial performance of this film.

Then again, other than the things listed above, the writing was definitely the worst part of Fifty Shades of Grey, so if the screenplay can come out with better dialogue and we’re spared the annoying adjectives, we might have something better than the source material.

Not that it would be difficult.


2 thoughts on “‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Casts Its Consenting Adults

  1. You forgot that Dakota’s dad is none other than Don Johnson…

    Maybe this wasn’t the intent of your column, but probably the biggest reason that “unknowns” were cast in these roles was contractual. Without superheroes, exploding buildings and the end of the earth, this is the rare film that has franchise opportunities without being a big budget movie. That means the studio is likely playing hardball with these roles, offering bargain basement fees to actors and likely pre-locking in salaries for the sequels. (It’s a trilogy, right?) And never forget that producers/studios always love to “break” actors.

    Anyway — What’s changed in the movie biz over the past decade is the use of “unknown” actors. Hunnam and Johnson are well known in “the industry,” but aren’t to the general public or international audiences. It used to be that small indie films broke actors. But now with the need to presell foreign rights to movies to get indie films financed, established names that might be a little smelly are still getting work while the studios get to take shots on unknowns, as we’ve seen in big blockbusters like Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, Henry Cavill as Superman and Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

    Keep up the good stuff. Always like reading opinions on TV/film.

  2. You’re totally on point with all of this. These actors have worked a lot in Hollywood so far and are definitely “known,” but not huge stars to the public. A studio doesn’t pay them near what they would have to pay a really well known actor (like Robert Pattinson or Ian Somerhalder), and these actors get a chance to be launched to superstardom. It’s a win-win for everybody. Chris Hemsworth is doing pretty well for himself since Thor.

    And I will add Don Johnson into this post immediately! Thanks for the comment.

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