IN THE BEGINNING
When Jamie Dornan first sent in his audition tape in for the role of Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades series, being the humble man he is, he didn’t know if much would come of it. In his own words Dornan said “It would just be a funny story about going up for Fifty Shades.” However, a couple of months after submitting said audition tape, he was contacted by production and notified that he was a top contender to for the enigmatic role, and to be prepared to fly to Los Angeles to test for the part. But in September 2013, EL James, author of the Fifty Shades trilogy, announced that Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam had been awarded the coveted role of Christian Grey opposite breath-of-fresh-air Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele.
It wasn’t even a month later when things took a dramatic turn when Hunnam dropped out of the film due to a scheduling conflict, leaving Fifty Shades fans, Grey-less once again. Dornan was contacted immediately and flew to LA for a screen test. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson was immediately impressed and Dornan was given the role just days later.
On October 23rd, 2013, just a little over a month before filming was scheduled to commence, the Fifty Shades fandom had their new and final Christian Grey as the announcement poured over social media via James’ social media feeds. Dornan’s wife and musician Amelia Warner was heavily pregnant at the time, but being the supportive wife she is, dropped everything and agreed to fly to Vancouver with her husband so that he could grab hold of this once in a lifetime opportunity, understanding that they would have their baby on foreign Canadian soil. Their daughter was born happy and healthy just three (3) days before filming commenced.
In order to prepare for his role as the dominant Mr. Grey, Dornan hit the gym but also had to study up on an unfamiliar topic: BDSM. In addition to reading the books and conducting his own independent internet research, Dornan visited an S&M dungeon where he observed a dominant and submissive engaged in doing scenes together. Dornan and Johnson also completed an Entertainment Weekly photoshoot showcasing and highlighting the main stars of the franchise. These were the first official pictures released of Dornan and Johnson in their roles as Christian and Ana.
AND SO IT BEGINS
The first day of filming for Fifty Shades of Grey took place on Sunday December 1st, 2013 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Fans were more than elated to finally see the roles of Christian and Ana being brought to life by Jamie and Dakota, respectively. After delays in filming and release dates (the movie was originally slated for theatrical release on August 1, 2014) fans were elated that the project was finally underway. Filming continued in Vancouver over the next couple of months and wrapped on February 21st, 2014. Over the next few months an onslaught of promotions began including several movie trailers and TV spots as well a music video for Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do, featured on the OMPST, which featured scenes from the film, drip feeding fans a sweet taste of what was to come. Dornan and Johnson attended dozens of interviews and were featured on magazine covers. They did several promotional photoshoots sending the film’s hype into the stratosphere. Reshoots for the movie took place and were completed in October 2014, a year after Jamie was given the part of Christian. The countdown was on.
Notably, The Today Show which is filmed in NY, New York had an entire week devoted to Fifty Shades and its pending international release with EL James, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Jamie Dornan, and Dakota Johnson all in attendance. On February 6th, 2015 The Today Show hosted a special screening just for the fans that who attended that day. The world wide premier however took place in London, England on February 12th, 2015 with the film being released worldwide the following day on February 13th, 2015. The film instantly broke sales records, being the biggest R rated ticket presale in history, having (at the time) the biggest opening weekend for a movie released in February (it was surpassed by Deadpool in February 2016), and going on to earn over $500 million worldwide at the box office.
WHAT ABOUT DARKER AND FREED?
Now of course the next logical question for any fan of the Fifty Shades trilogy was obvious: How long would it be until the sequel came out? Everyone was hopeful it might only be a year’s time, but unfortunately due to the news of director Sam Taylor-Johnson not returning for the sequels, things seemed up in the air. Fortunately, the uncertainty of the franchise was short-lived. On April 23rd, 2015, Universal Pictures announced that Fifty Shades Darker was slated for release on February 10th, 2017 and that Fifty Shades Freed would come out the following year, on February 9th, 2018. EL James’ husband Niall Leonard was to take over writing the script, and James Foley was named director of the next two films. Producers Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca have also remained with Team Fifty.
Near the end of 2015 it was announced that both films would be filmed simultaneously, ensuring that the franchise would be completed in the timetable set forth. Filming began in Vancouver on February 16th, 2016 with Dakota Johnson and other cast members, with Jamie Dornan finally joining on February 29th, 2016. Fans were elated to have the dynamic duo working together again at last!
Filming is expected to continue through July 2016, with production making a stop in France to film scenes of Christian and Ana’s honeymoon. What better place than the country of love? What has already been seen from filming so far has certainly got fans quivering in expectation of seeing our favorite story brought to life on the big screen once again.