Fifty Shades of Grey has officially become the fastest selling paperback of all time and currently tops the book bestseller lists around the world. Universal and Focus Features recently won a frantic bidding war for the film rights, with rumours ofAngelina Jolie being lined up to direct and a host of young stars keen to land the daring lead roles of kinky businessmanChristian Grey and virginal love interest Ana
At her first ever UK fan event Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James spoke about the forthcoming movie adaptation. She emphatically ruled out casting Twilight stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, despite the fact the novels were originally written as Twilight fan fiction. She did admit however that despite have her own shortlist of stars to play Ana & Christian, the final casting decisions would not be left entirely up to her alone.
The author also defended the books from BDSM community criticism about how the novels present the lifestyle to a mainstream audience. Despite the phenomenal record breaking success of the series, EL James also admitted that she does have fears about the ability of the film version to live up to fan expectations and avoid being a big screen disappointment.
EL James spoke to fans for one and a half hours but you can read interview highlights below:
First fan question, will there be more books in the series and are you intending on re-writing the books from Christian’s perspective?
I might maybe. Yes. I mean… ohhh… It’s a question I get asked a lot usually on Twitter and I usually ignore it frankly. I would like to try and get away from them for a bit because I’m really sick of them frankly. They’ve lived in my head much longer than they have in everyone else’s. So yes I wouldn’t mind going away then coming back to them. But Christian’s a challenge; he’s a really tough headspace to be in. Part of me thinks it will ruin the mystique. But I don’t know, that’s my worry about doing it. I keep saying never say never. I haven’t ruled it out. But frankly I’m exhausted form all of this I need to go and just lie down on a beach.
The books have been celebrated for bringing the BDSM lifestyle to mainstream attention, but how do you feel about criticisms from within that community that Christian as the character who introduces us to that world is damaged, thus playing into the existing negative sterotypes?
Christian is from a damaged place. It’s not saying that Kinky is from a damaged place. The main reason I made him damaged is because I makes for a much more interesting story. If he wasn’t then the narrative just wouldn’t work. I did a lot of research into everything like dominance, submissives, contracts and slave traditions. I know that in the BDSM community it’s a sliding scale from starting with a bit of slap and tickle at one end all the way to a total power exchange. I understand the entire dynamic. It’s true that in this story Christian comes from a difficult place but I found many place on the internet where people also came to the kinky community from difficult places. I found one place where dominants were discussing the psychological problems of their submissives and I found that fascinating. I think because of this range within the community this is just supposed to be how he’s dealt with it.
One of the things I’ve learnt doing this is that I can’t own anybody’s response to the book. I wrote the books because I wanted to tell a fabulous love story. I think the BDSM issue is fascinating and arousing. I think you really need to read all the way through to see how Christian and Ana find their level of doing things and how their relationship progresses. I’m sorry if people do feel that way but if Christian had been a wonderfully rounded human being then the story really wouldn’t have been as good.
How closely inspired were you by the characters in the Twilight books and the performances of Rob & Kristen?
The characters grew; they started that way and developed into completely their own people. It was fascinating getting to know them and know them very well. I didn’t see an outline straight away; I had no idea where these books were going to go. I just went with them. As I go to know them they grew a life of their own.
There been some suggestions that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart could play Christian and Anna, how would you feel about seeing them in Fifty Shades of Grey?
I think it would be too strange ! It would just be .. Uggh weird!
Do you have a cast list in mind already for the film?
I have about 4 people in mind for Ana and 3 for Christian but I’m not telling anyone what they are because I’m not allowed to discuss the movie at all which is a real shame. Things are moving quite slowly on that but hopefully… it’s such fun and so hopefully after we’ve put a few things in place it will all start to move on. We’ve still got to get the producers in place then deal with the script and all that. The actual film is a long way down the line.
Do you have final say on casting and what kind of suggestions have you had so far?
On Facebook I’ve had a list of names as long as my arm from people. Oh my god yes! People have suggested that Pierce Brosnan needs to play Christian. Christian is in the eye of the beholder honestly. AS for the casting decision it will be up to all of us I suppose. It will be a collaborative effort, it won’t just be me. The Director, the producer, the head of the studio might want someone. It’s too early to say.
How do you feel about all the fan speculation about what the movie will be like?
There’s all these fan made trailers. I keep watching them going no, no, no that isn’t it! But I did send one to focus features. Hey look at this, what do you think, we don’t have to do anything. I didn’t hear back from them.
Movie adaptations often seem to fall short the standard of the original books. Are you worried at all about the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey disappointing fans?
Oh yes of course I’m really worried about that. The thing is a book is such a personal experience it’s only between the author and the reader. It’s not like being part of a huge forum like this, where everyone is expecting you to have their interpretation of that on the big screen. It is a concern and for me I’d rather always see a film first the read the book. Because the books are almost always better. I did have concerns like that, but then I thought, when am I going to have the chance again to work on a Hollywood movie? I thought sod it. I very much believe that life isn’t a dress rehearsal. So I decided to go for it.
Who would you prefer Edward Cullen or Christian Grey?
Oh that’s a tough one but I’d have to say… Christian Grey, because he’s my ultimate fantasy man!