Jennifer Lawrence once showed me a cell phone snap of herself dressed in a fierce black leather outfit.
She was hot off the success of her Oscar nominated work in Winter’s Bone and used the photo as part of her audition for a role that every actress of a certain age in Hollywood clamoured for in 2010.
She didn’t get the part of Lisbeth Salander, the pierced and inked computer hacker star of David Fincher’s remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo—the producers thought she was too tall—Rooney Mara did, but not before auditioning five times and beating out better known hopefuls like Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway.
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was 2011’s big literary adaptation, ripe with star making possibilities and lucrative franchise potential. It didn’t pan out that way but Hollywood hasn’t given up on bringing bestsellers to the screen.
This week there are high hopes for Fifty Shades of Grey. Calling the story of college graduate Anastasia Steele and BDSM enthusiast Christian Grey a “literary” adaptation might be a stretch, but with 100 million books sold (including parts two and three) there are great expectations.
So, actors should be crawling over one another to star in the film, right? Think again. Unlike Dragon Tattoo, young Hollywood has not exactly been whipping themselves into a frenzy over Fifty Shades. Shailene Woodley apparently had no qualms about performing the film’s explicit bondage scenes, but was already tied up making the Divergent movies.
Emma Watson did have qualms. “Who here actually thinks I would do Fifty Shades of Grey as a movie?” she wrote on twitter.
In the end Dakota Johnson, better known as the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith than for her work on the cancelled sitcom Ben and Kate, won the role and while it might make her a star there are dangers involved with a project like this. Just ask Elizabeth Berkley.
Berkley was a wholesome teen model and star of the sit com Saved by the Bell when a role in Paul Verhoeven’s 1995 sexploitation flick Showgirls left her career in tatters. As the untested star who bared her soul and body in a big budget film she took the hit for the film’s failure.
Almost twenty-years later she was still emotional about the backlash she suffered. After a performing an erotic dance on Dancing with the Stars she tearfully said, “it reconnected me to when I was just a young woman and took a risk creatively and did Showgirls. With that came a lot of doors being slammed in my face.”
Will Johnson be the next Berkley? According to ticket-selling site Fandango Fifty Shades of Grey is the fastest selling R-rated title ever, so Dakota may yet be spared a tearful breakdown in Dancing with the Stars in 2035.