Tuesday, February 3, 2015

New Interview of Jamie + Sam Taylor-Johnson and E.L. James Talk About Jamie

Casting director Francine Maisler and her team had been seeing actors in New York City, Los Angeles and London, where Jamie Dornan had put himself forward for the role of Christian Grey.

The Irish performer, known for his BAFTA Award-winning role on television’s The Fall and his work on Once Upon a Time, taped an audition scene.  For script security, those initially auditioning had been asked to prepare a scene from another film (Dornan chose a scene from True Romance); it was only later when winnowing applicants that anything approaching scripted materials was provided.  Of the series’ ubiquity, Dornan remarks: “I was totally aware of the books.  You’d have to be dead to not know of them.”

Following the promising taping, the actor Skyped with Taylor-Johnson and met with De Luca, James and Brunetti in London.  At Dornan’s request, the producers had a long sit-down with him.  “We thought that it was important that whoever was going to play these roles had to chase them, because they would be really putting themselves out there,” explains Brunetti.  “If there was going to be any apprehension at all, it was going to be a big problem in production and, perhaps, down the road in other films.”

Among the large ensemble of characters in her books, James knew that two characters had to be just perfect.  When asked what it was that drew her to Dornan as Christian Grey, she reflects: “You only have to see Jamie on screen to know the answer to that question. He has a real brooding intensity and presence. And he’s kind of easy on the eye, which helps.”

Dornan was up for the multitude of challenges and appreciated that Christian Grey is many things to many people.  He supplies: “From the outside, Christian is very intriguing and powerful, an impressive man with numerous businesses.  They’re all under one grand enterprise, but that incorporates all kinds of different telecommunications and farming technology companies. There are many different facets to his empire, and he’s incredibly young to be in this position. He’s all about power and money, and he has plenty of both. But as we delve deeper, we realize that there’s a lot more to him than that.”

After finding a welcome reception in England, Dornan flew to Los Angeles to audition in person for Taylor-Johnson, a meeting that would put him with the already-cast Dakota Johnson for a “chemistry read.”  For his part, the somewhat soft-spoken actor admits, “I liked Dakota instantly.  She has a sort of aloofness to her, and she was thorough and just very good.  I actually felt sorry for her when we auditioned.  She had to do these scenes over and over with different guys, and then I came in at the end of the day, sort of asking, ‘Look, can you muster up another good performance for me?’ And she did.”

Dornan boils it down to the task before him: “As an actor, you are looking for parts that will be challenging and different.  I’ve never played anyone like Christian before.  He’s a very intriguing character with a lot of layers, a lot of depth, and that’s what you want: to portray him in a truthful way on screen.”

Taylor-Johnson was quite moved to see the performers’ connection and knew she’d found the perfect Christian to her Ana.  (Johnson had originally been paired with Charlie Hunnam, but the actor departed the film prior to the start of principal photography).  The director says: “Jamie Dornan is a fantastic, perfectly pitched Christian Grey.  He brings a lot to this role—an elegance to the character, but he also brings exactly what Christian is, which is that slight one-step-removed mystery.  That’s because Jamie has that innately in him already.  He’s an extraordinary actor, and he plays Christian Grey exactly as he should be played.”


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