It took so long coming that the project had all but been forgotten about. Over the last year, there was much speculation and rumour of who might play the leads in the film adaptation of E L James’ ridiculously successful erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey (including by yours truly). Few characters have been as talked about as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, but the announcement has come a good year after the height of the book’s hype, so it has yet to be seen if it can maintain its popularity.
Yesterday (Monday 1st September) the trilogy’s author herself broke the news on Twitter (in a rather teasing manner):
So, the big question is whether these two actors can live up to the legacy that their respective characters have created in such a short space of time.
Dakota Johnson has featured in several films, but unusually her film debut was in 1999 (Crazy In Alabama) and then she didn’t appear in anything else until 2010 (The Social Network). Her most memorable role so far has probably been in The Five-Year Engagement as Jason Segel’s young and energetic girlfriend, a role in which she was very bouncy, very clingy and essentially annoying. While it worked for the film, it won’t necessarily enthuse people towards her. In March, she will also be seen in Need For Speed, which will hopefully expose her more and reassure audiences of her capabilities.
Looks-wise, she’s certainly got that allure of being beautiful in a unique and potentially blushing sort of way, but she doesn’t really look how Anastasia described herself in the books. She has blonde hair instead of brown, and is rather taller than Ana’s petite frame. However, if she carries herself in the right insecure manner and fully commits to the role, then this shouldn’t matter at all. The only reason I’m even considering physical appearance so highly is because the books are obviously built around physicality so it’s more important than usual.
Onto Christian Grey. Charlie Hunnam seems to have had a similar level of exposure to Dakota so far, having appeared in several films (most notably this year’s Pacific Rim) and the TV programme Sons Of Anarchy, but few outside of certain nerd circles would have been able to put a name to the face; Fifty Shades Of Grey is a very large departure from these titles, too! Wonderfully, he once appeared in an episode of Byker Grove; who’d have thought that one of those kids could land the lead role in such an internationally anticipated franchise!
In terms of appearance, although he’s not as handsome as many of us would like (sorry Charlie!) he does have the right coloured hair and is certainly broad-shouldered enough to convey dominance as is obviously necessary. He will definitely have to cut his hair to a smarter length though, instead of the shoulder-length mess in many of the pictures currently circulating; the beard should also ideally go.
Whether or not these actors are perfect or awful for their respective roles, it’s irrelevant if no one wants to see the film. Fifty Shades Of Grey will need to maintain the same kind of momentum for older women as Twilight did for teenage girls for one more year if they want to see the kind of results that they’re surely expecting. Right now, the overall mood towards the franchise is actually fairly apathetic.
Regardless, we’ll have to wait and see what happens on 1st August 2014…