Dakota Johnson says Fifty Shades of Grey filming was 'psychotic' - 'I signed up to do a very different version of the film we ended up making'

Dakota Johnson, who starred as Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, has spoken about the behind-the-scenes conflict

Dakota Johnson
(Image credit: Tristan Fewings / Stringer / Getty Images)

In a recent interview, Dakota Johnson spoke openly about her experience on the set of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy as she admits that the series was not exactly what she signed up for.

In the article with Vanity Fair, Dakota said that she was initially drawn to this breakout role because she herself is a 'sexual person' and was excited about the adaptation of this hugely popular series of books.

"I’m a sexual person, and when I’m interested in something, I want to know so much about it," she said in the interview. "That’s why I did those big naked movies," she added referring to the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. She then added rather shockingly, "I signed up to do a very different version of the film we ended up making."

When questioned about what the specific issues were, Dakota said that it was a 'combo' of the studio and directors in charge of the film, plus, "It was also the author of the books,” admitted Dakota.

Fifty Shades Darker has some of the best movie sex scenes we've seen

(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

"When I auditioned for that movie, I read a monologue from Persona and I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be really special,’ ” said Dakota. Nevertheless, she admitted she was nervous when she signed the contract, "I was young. I was 23. So it was scary." 

After she had already signed on the dotted line, there were then a number of changes including a change of cast and script. Charlie Hunnam was set to play Christian Grey but was replaced last minute because of scheduling issues. Alongside this, playwright Patrick Marber revised the original script from Kelly Marcel.

"There were a lot of different disagreements. I haven’t been able to talk about this truthfully ever, because you want to promote a movie the right way, and I’m proud of what we made ultimately and everything turns out the way it’s supposed to, but it was tricky," admitted the star.

Fifty Shades of Grey

(Image credit: Ian Gavan / Getty Images)

The author of the books the series is based on, E.L James, - also known as Erika- had a key role in the adaptation process, and according to Dakota wanted a number of cringy and 'cheesy' aspects included. "She had a lot of creative control, all day, every day, and she just demanded that certain things happen," said the actress.

"There were parts of the books that just wouldn’t work in a movie, like the inner monologue, which was at times incredibly cheesy. It wouldn’t work to say out loud. It was always a battle. Always," said the actress.

"We’d do the takes of the movie that Erika wanted to make, and then we would do the takes of the movie that we wanted to make," revealed the star. "The night before, I would rewrite scenes with the old dialogue so I could add a line here and there. It was like mayhem all the time."

E.L James

Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James 

(Image credit: Julian Parker / Contributor / Getty)

There were a number of sex scenes in Fifty Shades of Grey and despite the presence of an intimacy coordinator, the awkward nature of creating these sexual scenes has created a close bond between Dakota and her co-star Jamie Dornan.

"There was never a time when we didn’t get along," said Dakota. "I know it’s weird, but he’s like a brother to me. I love him so, so, so much. And we were really there for each other. We had to really trust each other and protect each other."

She added that Jamie supported her when she refused certain directions during the erotic scenes. "We were doing the weirdest things for years, and we needed to be a team: ‘We’re not doing that,’ or ‘You can’t do that camera angle.’ Sam [director Sam Taylor-Johnson] didn’t come back to direct after the first movie, and, as a female, she had brought a softer perspective," said the star. 

Dakota added that a male directing intimate scenes had a very different 'energy.' "James Foley came on to direct, and he’s an interesting man. It was different doing those bizarre things with a man behind the camera. Just a different energy. There are things that I still cannot say because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s career and I don’t want to damage anybody’s reputation, but both Jamie and I were treated really well. Erika is a very nice woman, and she was always kind to me and I am grateful she wanted me to be in those movies." 

Dakota then added, "Look, it was great for our careers,” she says. “So amazing. So lucky. But it was weird. So, so weird."


Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, and director Sam Taylor-Johnson in 2015

(Image credit: Target Presse Agentur Gmbh / Contributor / getty)

Despite this mayhem, Dakota revealed that she does not regret starring in this film that has helped catapult her career and she is now set to star in Jane Austen's Persuasion. However, Dakota did also admit that she doesn't think anyone would have signed up for the 'psychotic' chaos if they were fully aware of the behind-the-scenes craziness before joining the project.

"I don’t think it’s a matter of regret," says Dakota. "If I had known at the time that’s what it was going to be like, I don’t think anyone would’ve done it. It would’ve been like, ‘Oh, this is psychotic.’ But no, I don’t regret it."

Laura Harman

Laura is the Entertainment Editor for woman&home who primarily covers television, film, and celebrity news. Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.