Bret Easton Ellis apparently has a podcast (see, you learn something new everyday) and on his most recent episode he had Gus Van Sant on his show to discuss a variety of films. One of those films was Fifty Shades of Grey. As you may, or may not recall; Bret lobbied quite hard to write the script and Gus Van Sant made a test screen of a scene with Alex Pettyfur. Neither won the hearts of Team50, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an interesting insight into the story and the film.
Bret Easton Ellis’ first impression of the book was that it was, “maybe not a good book,” but that it would make a great movie. I found it strange that he thinks that Erika would agree that it’s not a great book. There has never been a post I’ve written, or a picture I’ve taken that I thought was perfect, but I wouldn’t have published it if I didn’t think it was good. I suspect Erika is the same. Since there was very little changes from the original fan fiction version of the story and the story that was published, I think I have a decent theory there.
I had read an article about the podcast and was worried that both Bret and Gus didn’t get the story of Christian and Ana – that they were just interested in the sex aspect. After listening to them speak, I do think they understood the story, but had a different take. I think they both understood that the sex was designed to move the story and Bret thought the story was well laid out, just needed some help with the dialog. However, I think they were both focused on the story in terms of the how the sex moved the story, instead of focusing on the underlying love story.
At one point, Bret says that he doesn’t think the 2nd and 3rd books are as dynamic, and I suspect that has to do with his interpretation and his view on the sex in the story. Love becomes a stronger theme as the story progresses and sex goes from a primary element to a secondary element in the story. I think this different interpretation made Bret and Gus less likely candidates to write and direct the film.
Bret Easton Ellis did get an opportunity to pitch to the producers of Fifty Shades of Grey his idea for the script; but, in a later chat with Erika, was told that they were always going to hire a woman for that job. The interesting thing is that Gus Van Sant doesn’t think that was the plan, but that Erika went the safe route by choosing a female british writer around her age. He also doesn’t think that the people around her necessarily wanted that (a female writer, not Kelly Marcel in particular). I’m wondering if it was like when you’re picking a doctor. You say you’re open to having a male doctor, but when it comes to choosing, you keep finding yourself focused on a the females. I can certainly see the potential of choosing someone like herself, instead of (as a newbie) making a bold statement with a more experienced writer (and director) who might challenge her and the story. It makes me wonder what the potential is for a writer and director for Fifty Shades Darker, after Erika has become more comfortable with the filming process.
There was one other interesting nugget of information, which may or may not be true, and that is that Charlie Hunnam’s problem was that he wanted too much control over the script and basically Erika had had enough of it. If that is true, it’s a testament to Erika and her dedication to the film representing the story she wrote. But it also means, I could see the frustration that other people on Team50 might have with her. While I wonder if Fifty Shades Darker can bring in some bigger, more experienced names based on its success and the growth in Erika, I wonder if her control will scare off some of those big names too.
After listening to Bret and Gus, I do think they could have made a great movie. And, if Erika had sold the rights to the movie and not been involved, it’s possible they could have made the movie. However, it would have been a very different movie then we will be getting and instead of emphasizing the love story, it would have emphasized a relationship with a sexual challenge. As much as I love the love story in Fifty Shades of Grey, I’m kind of curious how these two would have made the movie.