In the cover story for Vanity Fair’s July 2022 issue, Dakota Johnson spoke at length about her complicated experience starring in the Fifty Shades franchise. The 32-year-old actress recalled how Charlie Hunnam dropped out of the first film as her character Anastasia Steele’s love interest, which caused author E.L. James to scrap the original script that was written by playwright Patrick Marber. “I was young. I was 23. So it was scary,” Dakota explained.
“It just became something crazy,” the Persuasion actress added. “There were a lot of different disagreements. I haven’t been able to talk about this truthfully ever, because you want to promote a movie the right way, and I’m proud of what we made ultimately and everything turns out the way it’s supposed to, but it was tricky.”
Sam Taylor-Johnson eventually signed on as director while Jamie Dornan replaced Charlie as Christian Grey. But there were still disagreements on the script, according to Dakota, so the cast had to film more scenes than necessary. “The night before, I would rewrite scenes with the old dialogue so I could add a line here and there. It was like mayhem all the time,” she said. Dakota also referred to the moment where Anastasia and Christian outline her sexual contract in the first film as “the best scene in the whole movie.”
Despite the complicated production process, Dakota said she has no regrets being part of the three Fifty Shades films, which were all box office hits. “If I had known at the time that’s what it was going to be like, I don’t think anyone would’ve done it. It would’ve been like, ‘Oh, this is psychotic.’ But no, I don’t regret it,” she said.
Furthermore, Dakota said there was no truth to the rumors that she and Jamie, 40, clashed on set. “There was never a time when we didn’t get along,” she told Vanity Fair. “I know it’s weird, but he’s like a brother to me. I love him so, so, so much. And we were really there for each other. We had to really trust each other and protect each other.”
“Look, it was great for our careers,” Dakota added of the erotic romantic film series. “So amazing. So lucky. But it was weird. So, so weird.”