It doesn’t matter what you think of the movies, Fifty Shades, like Transformers, has become a critic-proof franchise. But there are those who don’t like it and wish it hadn’t happened. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson is one of them. Yes, if she had it her way, Taylor-Johnson says she wouldn’t do Fifty Shades of Grey over again.
The director recently spoke with The Sunday Times about all manner of things, including marriage, cancer and her work on Fifty Shades of Grey. Despite the movie being a financial success, Sam Taylor-Johnson is far from happy with the end result and, it turns out her and author E.L. James were butting heads a lot on set. Here’s what she had to say about it.
“With the benefit of hindsight would I go through it again? Of course I wouldn’t. I’d be mad. It was a struggle and there were lots of onset tête-à-têtes, with me trying to bat it into the [right] place. I like everyone, and I get really confused when they don’t like me. I was so confused by E.L. James. I don’t understand when I can’t navigate a person, when there’s no synergy.”
Fifty Shades of Grey always had a ceiling of how good it could possibly be, but conflicting visions never help anything. Sam Taylor-Johnson also hasn’t done a lot of work since the movie came out, with only two episodes of Gypsy, which is currently in pre-production, to her name since. It is also easy to imagine that, since E.L. James’ book sold more than 125 million copies worldwide, and since she wrote the screenplay for the movie, that the studio would want her input. And, it also isn’t hard to imagine who’s vision ultimately won out most of the time. In a separate interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Taylor-Johnson talked a little bit more about the conflicting visions for the movie and how that wound up affecting it.
“Two different creative visions. Her vision versus mine, and they were polar opposite. Every scene was fought over. It was tough. It was like wading uphill through sticky tar. Her thing was, ‘This is what the fans expect.’ I’d be like, ‘Well, let’s try and hit those marks but create a new universe at the same time.'”
James Foley (Glengarry Glenn Ross) took over directing duties for Fifty Shades Darker, as well as for the forthcoming Fifty Shades Freed. For whatever it may be worth, Fifty Shades of Grey, though still lamented, was received better critically than Fifty Shades Darker and it also did better at the box office, bringing in $571 million worldwide, versus the $378 million that the sequel managed. So, even if Sam Taylor-Johnson has regrets about the movie and wouldn’t want to do it again, she can probably take some solace in the fact that, whatever bits of her vision crept into Fifty Shades of Grey seemed to resonate just a bit better with audiences. At the very least we might be able to give her a pass on this one now.