Fifty Shades Of Grey Author Choreographed Sex Scenes With Husband In An Uncomfortable Place

E.L. James is recalling the unexpected place she contrived steamy scenes for the 2015 hit film.
E.L. James and her husband, Niall Leonard (left); Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in a scene from "Fifty Shades of Grey."
E.L. James and her husband, Niall Leonard (left); Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in a scene from "Fifty Shades of Grey."
Getty Images/Universal/Shuttershock

Fifty Shades Of Grey author E.L. James had a particular person in mind to help her choreograph sex scenes for the 2015 movie adaption of her best-selling novel.

In a new interview with Today, James revealed that she tapped her husband, Niall Leonard, for some hands-on planning for the sultry scenes between Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) – all while tightly cramped in the backseat of their Mini Cooper.

“I said, ‘All right, I’ll sit on your lap,’” the 60-year-old author of the BDSM-inspired franchise novels said, recounting the instructions she gave her husband.

James noted that the pair remained “fully clothed,” but “people were walking by to the football ground at the end of the road” while they choreographed the scenes on a Saturday afternoon.

“They were thinking, ‘What are these two doing?’” she added of the bystanders who spotted them.

Much like James’ Fifty Shades Of Grey novel, the 2015 film adaptation follows a literature student, Anastasia Steele, whose “life changes forever when she meets a handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey”.

The popular film spawned two sequels: 2017’s Fifty Shades Darker and 2018’s Fifty Shades Freed, becoming one of the most lucrative franchises in Universal’s history.

Back in July 2022, Dakota Johnson spoke with Vanity Fair about how she found herself butting heads with James while filming.

She said James exercised “a lot of creative control, all day, every day” over the film’s production and “demanded that certain things happen,” calling her experience working with James a “battle”.

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

She went on to explain that at one point, she and director Sam Taylor-Johnson wound up rewriting certain scenes the night before shooting.

“We’d do the takes of the movie that [James] wanted to make, and then we would do the takes of the movie that we wanted to make,” Johnson shared. “It was like mayhem all the time.”


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