Dakota John­son says she did not con­sider the con­se­quences of a lead role in a film charged with eroti­cism, be­cause the story ap­pealed

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES PLAY - VICKY ROACH

Chris­tian Grey’s head­line-grab­bing sex­ual predilec­tions are re­ally the least of Dakota John­son’s prob­lems. As a third-gen­er­a­tion ac­tor try­ing to make a name for your­self in Hol­ly­wood, it’s hard enough to get the suits to take you se­ri­ously.

Add the prej­u­dices, pre­con­cep­tions – and fer­vid fan com­men­tary – that are part of any screen adap­ta­tion of a book as in­fa­mous as Fifty Shades of Grey and you have a de­gree of dif­fi­culty that would make most peo­ple quake in their boots.

In­ter­view­ing John­son about her first lead fea­ture film role – as Anas­ta­sia Steele, the vir­ginal col­lege grad­u­ate who ex­pe­ri­ences her sex­ual awak­en­ing at the hands of the hand­some, filthy rich, bondage and dis­ci­pline-ori­ented Chris­tian Grey – it’s tempt­ing to ask her what on earth was she think­ing?

The late French ac­tor Maria Sch­nei­der, who was only 19 when Ital­ian direc­tor Bernardo Ber­tolucci cast her as the freespir­ited Jeanne in Last Tango In Paris, spent years try­ing to move be­yond the role and the no­to­ri­ety that came with it.

“I wanted to be recog­nised as an actress and the whole scan­dal and af­ter­math of the film turned me a lit­tle crazy,” Sch­nei­der told Lon­don’s Daily Mail in 2007.

John­son, per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, de­fends the 1972 clas­sic.

“Last Tango In Paris is one of the best movies of all time,’’ she says.

“I com­pletely un­der­stand look­ing back on some­thing and hav­ing some re­grets, but maybe the only rea­son she felt that was be­cause of the judg­ment she re­ceived from peo­ple who were per­haps more closed minded than other peo­ple.”

Up un­til this point, John­son, 25, has made a name for her­self with small roles in big films such as The Five-Year En­gage­ment, 21 Jump Street and The So­cial Net­work.

John­son says she did con­sider the con­se­quences of play­ing the lead in an erot­i­cally-charged film.

“But I feel like you just can’t go into a project won­der­ing if you are go­ing to be ex­ploited.

“If the ma­te­rial is fas­ci­nat­ing, and the peo­ple are good cre­ative peo­ple, then there is no rea­son not to do it.

“I was in­trigued by the arc of the char­ac­ter and the story it­self is fairly mag­i­cal, I think.

“The time in a woman’s life when she loses her vir­gin­ity is a re­ally pro­found and in­ti­mate mo­ment. (Anas­ta­sia) be­comes a woman and be­gins to un­der­stand parts of her­self that she didn’t know ex­isted.”

In Fifty Shades Of Grey that dis­cov­ery is set against a sex­ual back­drop of bondage/dis­ci­pline, dom­i­nance/sub­mis­sion and sadism/masochism (BDSM.)

“I didn’t know any­thing about BDSM sub­cul­ture. I didn’t even know how mas­sive it is,” says John­son.

It helped to know she had a fe­male direc­tor – Sam Tay­lorJohn­son ( Nowhere Boy).

“Ab­so­lutely. I felt very safe and pro­tected with Sam. And she has such a won­der­ful vi­sion and she is such an in­cred­i­ble artist and direc­tor that it was very com­fort­ing.”

Tay­lor-John­son has said that un­like male pre­de­ces­sors, she has tried to be very equal op­por­tu­nity with the nu­dity – “a nip­ple from Anas­ta­sia, a butt cheek from Chris­tian”.

Some crit­ics of the book have de­scribed the naive, sub­mis­sive Anas­ta­sia as a prefem­i­nist throw­back.

“I think it’s an un­e­d­u­cated point of view,’’ says John­son primly. “This film is made by women. For women and men.

“I think peo­ple will be pleas­antly sur­prised. I think they will be able to re­late to the char­ac­ters. It’s a love story ul­ti­mately.”

A scene from the movie

Fifty Shades of Grey,

which ac­tor Dakota John­son de­scribes as “a love story, ul­ti­mately”.

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