Why the Fifty Shades of Grey Screenwriter Has Not Watched the Movie


Kelly Marcel says she initially came on board to write the Fifty Shades of Grey film adaptation with the idea that, well, she’d actually be writing it. Alas, while she would write the initial script, it would go on to become quite different to what she intended. And now, well…

“I have not seen the movie Fifty Shades of Grey… When I say my heart really was broken by that process, I really mean it,” Marcel told Brett Easton Ellis on a recent podcast interview.

The screenwriter, who previously earned a BAFTA nomination for co-writing Saving Mr. Banks, said she didn’t feel like she could watch the film “without feeling some pain about how different it is” to what she had written.

“I didn’t want the story to be linear; I wanted it to begin at the end of the film, and for us to meet in the middle,” Marcel explained.

“So you start with the spanking, and you have these sort of flashes that go throughout the film. … I wanted to take the inner goddess out, and all of Ana’s inner monologue. … I wanted to remove a lot of the dialogue. I felt it could be a really sexy film if there wasn’t so much talking in it.”

Fifty Shades of Grey‘s production didn’t go smoothly. Reports of on-set disagreements between the book’s author and director Sam Taylor-Johnson popped up, situations that Marcel says she saw coming early on.

“There was a moment where we were weeks away from shooting … and it was clear that that was gonna be a struggle,” she said.

“It’s very difficult to come on as a director and to be handcuffed that way and not be able to fulfill your creative vision because there are certain restrictions on you. But at the same time, I would argue that it was very clear that that was the way it was going to be.”


Ultimately, Marcel says, the film’s creative direction was in the hands of the book’s author.

“When I delivered that script was when I realized that all of them saying, ‘Yeah, absolutely this is what we want!’, and, ‘You can write anything you like and get crazy and artistic with it’ — that was utter, utter bullshit. Rightly so. Erika [E.L. James] was like, ‘This isn’t what I want it to be’, and ‘I don’t think this is the film the fans are looking for.’ ”

Fifty Shades of Grey brought in over $569 million worldwide on a budget of $40 million, a big hit, but a 4.2 score on IMDB and a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes are indicative of the overall negative opinion the film has seen. Nevertheless, money’s money, so Fifty Shades Darker is (currently) lined up for U.S. release on February 10, 2017. Unsurprisingly, Sam Taylor-Johnson won’t be returning to direct and Marcel won’t be writing the screenplay. Script-writing duties will this time go to E.L. James’ husband, Niall Leonard.