While E.L. James’ “Twilight” fan-fiction turned series of erotic novels, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” were popular enough that it would seem like film adaptations of the books would make unheard of amounts of money, there are still a few problems to solve that have likely kept the material from being put on the fast track to development. How would a Fifty Shades of Grey movie handle all of the kinky sex stuff, which is central enough to the storytelling that it would have to be included, but which would undoubtedly give it the dreaded R rating that restricts a film’s audience and that studios hate? Is it possible to keep in enough of the steamy stuff and still make it PG-13, or would it be stupid of Focus Features—who owns the film rights to the books—to not just bite the bullet and make R-rated film versions of these popular novels, no matter how much the restricted rating makes their bean-counters sweat?
Thankfully for all you fans of latex jumpsuits and nipple clamps, there’s a man out there who feels that he has the right approach to making a Fifty Shades of Grey movie a success, and that man is veteran director of independent film, Gus Van Sant.
It’s not exactly standard practice for a director to begin work on a movie before he’s been hired to make it, but apparently Van Sant is so confident that he could knock the Fifty Shades of Grey job out of the park that he’s shot a steamy sex scene from the book to show to the studio and the book’s author, in order to campaign for the job [via The Wrap]. This wasn’t just some low rent production where Van Sant shot the kids from next door messing around in his garage either. He went as far as casting Magic Mike star Alex Pettyfer as the story’s Übermensch love interest, Christian Grey, and he had him shoot the pivotal loss of virginity scene alongside a whole gaggle of unnamed actresses.
Say what you will about desperate times calling for desperate measures, but can you think of a smarter way to prove to a studio that a Fifty Shades of Grey film is feasible than by shooting a sex scene from it with an actor who recently starred in an R-rated movie full of sexual content that was nonetheless a huge hit with female audiences young and old? If there was a Fifty Shades of Grey movie—and, good god, I’m not saying there should be—can you think of any better actor/director duo to bring it to the screen than Van Sant and Pettyfer? And if this little stunt does end up getting them the jobs they desire, which of the up and coming young actresses out there do you think would look nicest next to Pettyfer as the story’s easily-led love puppy protagonist, Anastasia Steele?
Jeez, it feels ridiculous just typing those character names. Good luck to whoever does have to take this material and try to turn it into a serious movie. Maybe they should just hire Tyler Perry.