First, it was a litterary phenomenon. Published in France in 2012, “Fifty Shades of Grey” became a bestseller before it was even out. E.L. James was able to make a Harlequin-like romance into eroticism. Alas, it has nothing to do with Sade, Houellebecq, or naughty erotic litterature from the 18th century… The only point of the saga has been to bring people back to bookshops, then to cinemas, when the movie was relased, on February 11, 2015. Since Hollywood has always been good at taking popular stories and turning them into blockbusters, the movie was successful, as expected, securing at the same time the lauch of a movie saga. That’s why Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan meet with worldwide journalists in a huge, dark Universal Studio, to promote “Fifty Shades Darker”. Her, just like her character, cold and distant. Him, a charming, well-mannered British man.
Is it a love story, or a battle of egos between the two?
Jamie Dornan. A love story! It’s the heart of the movie and the book. “Fifty Shades” isn’t a battle of egos, but the story of two characters looking for the best way to love each other. The movies do justice to the books, they remain fairly close to their content.
The movies are a bit funnier. Anastasia is way funnier on the silver screen than on pages, right?
D.J. It’s a fairly strong character.
J.D. But it’s probably you who brought her this strenght, her strong character, her humour.
D.J. Maybe… I did find her quite funny, but not everybody had percieved this dimension with the character.
J.D. And you’ll see in the second movie, this aspect of the character is even more expanded [Laughs]
How do you each perceive your respective characters?
J.D. Ha, if only we knew! We constantly talk about it, between us and also with the director. But I don’t feel like a big brother who’d give advice to his little sister. We just try to be on the same page constantly.
These two roles force you to have a real sexual intimacy. In order to make this possible, do you have to be friends in real life?
D.J. We have a very special relationship. I am close to Jamie’s wife, to his children, he’s someone I deeply care about. There are many Hollywood franchises, but I think this is the only one where the actors were able to develop a real friendship. Since we’re both on set every day, it would have been hard if it hadn’t been the case…
Do you maintain this friendship outside of work?
J.D. Not necessarily. When we’re on set, it’s for 13 hours a day. So we have a lot of time to learn to know each other! [Laughs] It creates bonds, memories. A lot of people may think it’s only a movie, but this friendship was born fairly easily. We had the same approach to our roles, and we were also able to laught about it, especially after intense scenes… We are now very close. We’ve been trough success together, as well as hard times.
You were shooting the movie in Nice when the terrorist attack occured.
J.D. I was there with my family, the crew was in Monaco. We were asleep when the attack happened, because my children are still very young and we went to bed early. During the night, I got a lot of phone calls to make sure we were safe and sound.
How do you imagine the rest of your careers? There’s a chance that you’ll always be seen as your characters…
D.J. Personnally, I don’t care, and I don’t believe I’ll always be seen as Anastasia.
J.D. Same for me, I think I’ll be able to get away from the character. How many actors before me have had emblematic roles and went on to do other things? The real issue would be not to be able to portray characters as strong. The challenge in Hollywood is to keep working, to find good projects, ones that people want to see.
Jamie, you do choose astonishing roles. You just shot a movie with French director Alexandre Aja, “The Ninth Life of Louis Drax”. A rather small project…
J.D. It’s different from Hollywood franchises, indeed. It’s not the same budget, the same stakes, and I need this balance between intimate projects and big movies. I also really want to be in a TV show again, where you can do so much more, in terms of writing, than in a classical movie. In a way, this freedom that I now have, I owe it to Christian Grey.
D.J. “Fifty Shades” is a real platform for the both of us. These movies allow us to be seen. Instead of being typecast in a role, like you suggested, they open new doors for us.
But today, whatever you do, you’re living your life followed by paparazzi. No pain no gain?
J.D. I don’t care, I just pretend they don’t exist. I’ve never been interested in the lives of others, so I just live normally. When people gather in Paris, at the Opéra Garnier because we’re filming there, it is my life on this precise day. The next day, I move on to something else. My daily life is not making a movie in Paris. It’s only a few days in a year… Moreover, this kind of “incident” is extremely rare.
D.J. I also try to live as normaly as possible. Yes, my parents are famous, but a lot of my friends don’t come from the industry. And yes, when I attend a movie premiere, I pay attention to what I’m wearing. But when I go out shopping, I don’t give a damn! [Laughs]
J.D. The more you think about these kind of things, the crazier you become. It’s better to try and live a normal life.
D.J. And it’d be so boring to think every day about what you have to do, what you have to say…
So fame and being recognised is not a problem for you?
J.D. It’s alright. Maybe we’re able to deal with it better than other people. We live in the countryside, few people are interested in Mr Grey. I’d attract more attention if I spent five nights a week in clubs in New York. These kind of things were fun when I was 21. But now, at 34, it’s not anymore.
Jamie, you were part of a rock band in England. Is it its success that pushed you to do films?
J.D. [Laughs] It was a band of mates that we started when we were 17, without thinking any further. A lot of people around us would have wanted us to explode. But the adventure came to a sudden end.
D.J. I’m having a hard time imagining you in a rock band… [Laughs]
Some critics have compared “Fifty Shades” to a mix between “Cinderella” and “Blue Is The Warmest Color”. Do you agree with that?
D.J. Ha, I quite like it. But how many people really did say that? Anyway, that’s the kind of comment that I find very flattering. I’m cool with that!
J.D. I like these movies, so I’m okay with it too. For once…