Sam Taylor Johnson

There was some discussion after Universal and Focus Features locked down the hotly sought after rights to make Fifty Shades of Grey as to whether it was the kind of movie that had to have a female filmmaker at the helm. The answer is probably a little bit conflicting for everyone. On the one hand, it’s pleasant to imagine that a story that has seemed so focus toward and done so well with women would mean a natural opportunity for a bright female filmmaker to take part of the spotlight. On the other, who’s to say that any story necessitates one gender or another behind the camera?

Tough questions that will linger beyond Fifty Shades, but at least for this film, Universal and Focus’ answer is no longer in the abstract. According to Variety, Sam Taylor-Johnson is going to take the job. A relative newcomer to the directing game, she has only Nowhere Boy under her belt when it comes to features. Of course she made a mark with it, earning several award nominations for the flick and its actors — one of whom is Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-AssAnna Karenina). The pair met during filming and married soon after. The casting is far from finalized, but the Variety article claims a source vouching for Aaron Taylor-Johnson as a candidate for the lead Grey male role while The Wrap says he’s not going after it.

But if that’s true and ends up coming to fruition, Sam Taylor-Johnson would be directing explicit sex scenes between her husband and a young actress. All for art. Curiosities aside, this choice is pretty damned fantastic. Previous clues as to who Universal was looking at hinted at a prestige voice, and that’s absolutely the right direction to take when adapting something that (sorry, fans) is a joke to a huge swath of the populace. Sam Taylor-Johnson falls into that category. She can take the stiffly-written book and hopefully make it sing alongside screenwriter Kelly Marcel. Great hire here.


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