News Column

'Fifty Shades': British director's past primes her for new gig

June 21, 2013


June 21--Sam Taylor-Johnson's film resume appears a little light at first glance, but take a closer look at the newly crowned "Fifty Shades of Grey" director and her previous work clearly primes her for the high-profile gig.

The 46-year-old artist, whose only feature film is "Nowhere Boy," a story of John Lennon's childhood, is an accomplished photographer comfortable residing in the world of sex and erotica.

On the artist side of her resume is a nomination for the Turner Prize in 1998 for her video work. Her video of David Beckham sleeping won her national acclaim in her home country and her series "Crying Men," featuring famous film actors crying (including Ryan Gosling, Robin Williams and Sean Penn), has been popular.

But it's likely that her contribution to the 2006 collection "Destricted," a series of short films that explore the intersection of sex and art, is what helped Taylor-Johnson land the job.

Titled "Death Valley," Taylor-Johnson's eight-minute film depicts a man masturbating in the desert, a short the BBC called "moribund" and "masquerading as art" but still a piece that illustrates her comfort filming sexual acts.

You can watch the explicit trailer for the film series here.

In addition to her resume, one source says Taylor-Johnson was a hit in the meeting held in Los Angeles this week to introduce her to "Fifty Shades" author E.L. James. Taylor-Johnson, who flew down from Vancouver, where her husband, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, is filming "Godzilla" for Warner Bros., is said to have connected well with the fellow Brit, who was hoping to hire a female helmer.

The director already had a relationship with "Fifty Shades" producer Mike DeLuca, who hired her this year to direct the romantic thriller "The Reliable Wife" for Sony Pictures.

Casting is sure to begin shortly, with filming likely to commence before the year is up.


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