I can show you how pleasurable pain can be…. There will be pain, but nothingyou can’t handle…. Do you trust me, Ana?
If you have to ask, that’s billionaire Christian Grey smooth-talking recent college grad Anastasia Steele in E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, the novel that sparked Fifty Shades Fever. Since 2011 the trilogy has sold more than 100 million copies and “Fifty Shades” references have been slapped onto everything from classical music albums to baby onesies (“All my mommy wanted was a night with Mr. Grey”); perhaps not coincidentally, the bedroom practices popularized by the book have gone mainstream too, with bondage clubs popping up at Ivy League schools and sales of Ana’s favorite sex toys skyrocketing. But like it or not —and lots of people don’t— the phenomenon is just getting started. On February 13 Fifty Shades of Grey the film is set to dominate theaters, and its two previously under-the-radar stars, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, are about to find out how it feels to be bona fide sex symbols.
You may recognize their faces: Johnson, the 25-year-old daughter of actors Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, made her film debut at only 10 in Crazy in Alabama, directed by her stepdad, Antonio Banderas. She went on to charm audiences with small roles in big pictures like The Social Network and 21 Jump Street, as well as the lead in the critically beloved TV show Ben and Kate. And Dornan, 32, is no stranger to being the Man Women Want. The Belfast, Northern Ireland, native spent 10 years modeling for Dior, Armani, and Calvin Klein, posing shirtless with Kate Moss and in his undies with Eva Mendes. But if you’re tempted to dismiss him as a model who’s “trying” to act, instead of an actor who modeled, his two seasons as a serial killer in the BBC series The Fall will cure you of that notion.
So are they ready? “I don’t think anyone can really prepare Jamie and Dakota for what’s going to happen when this film comes out,” says Fifty Shades (female!) director, Sam Taylor- Johnson. Taylor-Johnson (no relation to Dakota) says she’s “very protective” of both her stars, but even she won’t be able to shield them from critics ready to pounce on the material. (Salman Rushdie once proclaimed that Fifty Shades the book “made Twilight look like War and Peace”) But the Fifty Shades cast and crew are more concerned with pleasing die-hard fans, who congregate on message boards and at book clubs, hotly debating every morsel of news on the film’s development, from the last-minute casting of Dornan as Christian (was he a good enough replacement, they debated, for Charlie Hunnam, who dropped out because of scheduling issues?) to Johnson’s hair in the trailer (is it as long as Ana’s should be? as dark? as bedhead-y?).
So much speculation! Glamour went in search ofthe real story of the making ofthe movie, and in this exclusive, Dornan, Johnson, and Taylor-Johnson took turns divulging the details of their Fifty Shades ride so far. Mr. Grey and Co. will see you now. On Chasing the Hottest Roles in Hollywood Dakota johnson: I had read the books and was drawn to the character of Ana because she’s private, loving, honest—and because she and Christian are both incredibly intelligent, con- fident, and can spar with each other on every level. I auditioned for two months. I met with Sam abunch oftimes. So when I found out I had the part, I think I started crying. I was relieved the not-knowing was over.
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Dakota was everything that I wanted in Anastasia. She has a strong sense of who she is, but at the same time there’s a sweetness about her. It was tough to find Christian because, on the page, he’s perfect. In real life there aren’t so many people that tick all those boxes: to be able to be charismatic and charming, successful, wealthy, and devastating handsome.
Jamie Dornan: At first, I didn’t audition. I made a tape in London with a casting director. I didn’t hear anything until they cast Charlie [Hunnam]. I thought it was kind of funny to say that I’d auditioned to play Christian and failed miserably. Then whatever happened with [Charlie] happened, and the doors opened again.
Dakota: It was disappointing [when Charlie left], but everything happened the exact way it was supposed to, I think.
Jamie: I flew to Los Angeles, tested [with Dakota]. She’d been involved in this project since day one. That day she’d read with, like, two other dudes. I think I was the last guy in. She was probably a bit fed up, like, “Just find the guy already,” but didn’t show that at all. I instantly liked her, thought she was very cool, very chilled out.
Dakota: We read the interview scene [where Ana and Christian first meet], which I’d done so many times I didn’t even know what I was saying anymore. He was really quiet, but cracking jokes—no one had done that. It just seemed right.
Jamie: There was a part of Christian that was obviously fractured.
Sam: Christian was an orphan. His mother had been a prostitute and addicted to drugs. He was abused.
Jamie: I think I have an understanding of people who have experienced some form of loss too young. My mom died when I was 16, and then four of my very good friends were killed in a car crash when I was 17. Loss is always tough, but when it happens young, you’ve got more of life to live going, “F—k, why did that happen?”
Sam: Jamie was able to convey that sense of mystery, the feeling that there’s an underlying troubled soul. He just had it all.
Jamie: I got cast six weeks before filming began. I was told I’d know that evening, so I was waiting for the call. It was about two in the morning. My wife [Amelia Warner, who was then into her thirtieth week of pregnancy] had gone to bed, and I’d stayed up, watching Storage Wars, because that show takes me to my safe place. [Laughs.] Sam called to tell me I’d got it. I gave my wife a nudge when I got into bed, “Hey, we’ll talk about it tomorrow, but—I need to go to sleep!”
On Becoming Anastasia and Christian
Jamie: I had to do a lot of work to get in shape because Christian’s someone who’s very anal about that. But it wasn’t six hours a day. You don’t want to turn to your heavily pregnant wife and say, “I’m going to the gym for six hours. Text me ifyou go into labor.”
Dakota: Jamie and I actually shared a trainer. It was important to me that Ana’s body look like that of an active college student. And I was going be naked, so I wanted to look good. I did a lot of working out and had more waxing than any woman should have!
Jamie: In that six weeks before filming, my daughter was born. It was just an insane time. For research, one rainy Tuesday evening, I kissed the wife and baby good night and went to watch a dominant-submissive session in a dungeon. The dominant was our sort of adviser on the job. He’d be on hand anytime there was a scene in the Red Room [Christian’s playroom for BDSM, bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism], to say, “You’re doing that wrong.” So I watched him dohis thing…. It was quite jovial, a very different approach to how I saw Christian being in the Red Room. I think Christian takes it a bit more seriously.
Dakota: I didn’t go to the sex dungeon. I wanted to keep myself dis- tanced from it at first because I wanted Ana’s reaction to certain things to be completely honest and real, like new. But I did do a lot of reading about the culture of BDSM. It’s about the ebb and flow of control between two people. To me, there’s something really honest in wanting to completely give up control for just a second.
Jamie: This whole movement isn’t guys tying up girls and spanking them. It’s often the other way around. These really powerful men like Christian Grey are surrounded by yes-men and yes-women all day, and when it goes dark, they want to be told what to do.
Dakota: If that’s your thing, great. Whatever blows your skirt up.
Jamie: The first day [of filming] was kind of an out-of-body experience. I got there and they said, “Action!” I’m like, “What the f—k is happening? I’m a dad. What?”
Dakota: I had way more time to prepare than Jamie did. I have to commend him.
Jamie: Christian was a massive challenge. I’ve played a couple of sick, sick dudes, serial killers… and characters who don’t treat women the way society deems appropriate. But it’s just TV, movies—it’s not real. I’ve always had a deep respect for women. I have two sisters. My father spent his career as an obstctrician-gynecologist caring for women…. But you have to find something likable in ever)’ character you play. I like how driven Christian is. [Still], I don’t think I would like him if he was a real dude and we met.
Dakota: I feel like women are so drawn to Christian because he is very elegant and ambitious and smart and strong. I don’t know if I would have the patience that Ana has for him, though.
On Entering the Red Room
Dakota: I didn’t see the Red Room [set] for two and a half months. Everyone kept it from me. I didn’t even see any photos. When I opened the door the first time, it was a whole other world. There were floggers, riding crops, and a whipping bench made to the exact shape and height of my body. Which was pretty cool.
Jamie: I’d learned [about] knots, buckles, howto use a whip. [But] the first time I did it with an actual person [was with Dakota].
Dakota: The scenes in that room were definitely the most vulnerable scenes in the movie. But it was a very closed set—my mom told me that it’s my right to ask for that during intimate scenes, so it seemed like [Jamie and Sam and I] were in this little world together.
Jamie: Some of the Red Room stuff was uncomfortable. There were times when Dakota was not wearing much, and I had to do stuff to her that I’d never choose to do to a woman.
Dakota: It’s stressful enough to be tied to a bed naked in a scene. But then they call cut, and you’re still tied to the bed, naked. Jamie would be the first one to throw a blanket over me.
Jamie: I felt very protective and aware that it probably wasn’t easy for her to be put in those situations, and exposed. And Sam, as a director, has an amazing quality of making everyone feel very relaxed.
Sam: We left anything that was emotionally difficult or of a sexual nature until the last few weeks of filming. By that point we had time to get to know each other, to build that trust, which was important to be able to go into the next realm. Those days on set were calm, but you could definitely feel tension.
Dakota: There were some painful moments. I got whiplash once from him throwing me on the bed; so f— king painful. And I wish we had a gag reel from the shoot. One time we were doing a scene in Christian’s kitchen, and I [thought it’d be funny] to hide in a cabinet. I pulled the handle, but it was not a real cabinet. The entire set came down on me.
Jamie: She’s very funny. Not as funny as she thinks, but she’s funny. [Laughs]
Dakota: The fact that I could laugh with him was nice. Sometimes I did walk off the set feeling a bit shell-shocked. The drive home from work always helped me snap out of it. And a big glass of wine.
Jamie: I’ve never had an on-screen relationship as intense with another actress. We respect and trust each other. We have to be fond of each other for this to work.
On Fans, Haters, and the Countdown to Megastardom
Sam: I’m so close to [the film that] I can’t feel too much about what people are going to like or dislike. I feel like we’ve respected the book and understood what the fan base wants to see. But it’s also different because it’s very visual. Of course I’m nervous about how the fans will receive it; I wouldn’t be normal if I wasn’t nervous.
Jamie: I [already] get, “Oh my God, you’re Christian Grey!” [out in public]. And I say, “No, I’m Jamie! I’m an actor.” When the film comes out, there will probably be more of that. I don’t think you can prepare for that. You can’t put up sandbags, get rations in. I just live my life. I’ve had the same friends since I was a small boy. None of them do what I do or, frankly, give a sh-t about what I do. We just love each other. The one thing I take comfort in is tha:none of that is going anywhere, no matter what the perception of me is or what happens in my career.
Dakota: I’m proud of [the movie]. I completely disagree with people who think Ana’s weak. I think she’s actually stronger than he is. Everything she does is her choice. And if I can be an advocate for women to do what they warft with their bodies and not be ashamed of what they want, then I’m all for that. My mom came up for a day [during filming]. She’s proud of me. But I don’t want my family to see [the movie], because it’s inappropriate. Or my brother?’ friends, who I grew up with. I think they’d be like, Blegh [mimics vomiting]. Also there’s part of me that’s like, I don’t want anyone to see this movie. Just kidding.
Jamie: When my daughter’s 18, I’m not going to go, “You’ve gotta watch Daddy in Fifty Shades of Grey.” But there will be greater things to protect her from than seeing Dad’s arse on the big screen.