Dakota Johnson Lands ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Role

EXCLUSIVE: The coveted role of Anastasia Steele has gone to Dakota Johnson in the Universal Pictures and Focus Features adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey.

Johnson, who is the daughter of actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, will star as the young college graduate who has a sexual awakening with Christian Grey, a young industrialist who takes her virginity. She falls in love with him, but his insistence she take the role of submissive and open herself to his S&M fantasies leaves her emotionally torn because otherwise he is the perfect guy. They’ve yet to cast Grey, and rumors have abounded about such actors as Sons Of Anarchy‘s Charlie Hunnam. Word on that is coming soon. [UPDATE: Hunnam has officially won the role.] The film will be released by Focus Features on August 1, 2014 in North America. It is being directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and produced by Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti alongside author E L James, whose erotic novel trilogy has sold over 70 million books worldwide. Kelly Marcel wrote the script.

The word about Ms. Johnson’s casting in Fifty Shades of Grey first came from the author. Johnson, who was among the young actresses rumored to be in the running has appeared in such films as The Social Network, on which De Luca and Brunetti were producers. Need for Speed, 21 Jump Street, and Universal Pictures’ The Five-Year Engagement are her other credits. She also starred as Kate in the Fox Network comedy series Ben and Kate, which aired during the 2012-2013 season. Ms. Johnson is currently shooting the feature film Cymbeline.

Related: Charlie Hunnam Cast As Christian Grey In ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’
Kelly Marcel To Write ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ For Universal And Focus
Sam Taylor-Johnson To Direct ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’

It is not surprising the role went to a newcomer. Nudity and erotic situations are plentiful in the book, and the movie will be no different, even though all involved are determined to get the film to an R rating. Johnson is repped by WME and Management 360.

Comments (211)

  • This is actually ok casting. She looks the part and is a decent actress. Good for her.

    Comment by Hmmm — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:15am PDT  
    • I am so upset… Disappointed indeed! The book was good but actors they chose does not match the part. Sad

      Comment by Anonymous — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 12:53pm PDT  
      • I am soooooo upset there not even close on who they cast. He is sooo not Christian why did they not listen to the public. There gonna loose major money on this film with this cast.

        Comment by Denise — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 2:08pm PDT  
        • I agree with Denise….he is not Christian….

          Comment by Linda — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 4:25pm PDT  
          • we were so much fascinated with the novel but now we are equally disappointed to know the actor playing for GREY … all our expectations have been drowned .. i recommend in ammendment to such decision

            Comment by nitika — Saturday September 14, 2013 @ 10:16pm PDT  
          • I agree they our not good choices!

            Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday November 26, 2013 @ 5:51pm PST  
        • I totally agree. Not looking forward to it now. He is just… eww. And her as Anastasia? no way

          Comment by Jackie — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 11:50pm PDT  
          • 100% agree!!! SHE IS NOT ANA!!! NO WAY, NO HOW, NO SIR!

            Comment by Kristen — Tuesday September 3, 2013 @ 8:52am PDT  
      • Why be disappointed, when you haven’t yet seen either of these actors in their roles? Once you’ve seen them together, you’ll most likely change your mind. As for me, I think that casting Charlie Hunnam as Christian and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia is PERFECT.

        Comment by Realist — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 3:17pm PDT  
        • I completely agree! I literally got goosebumps when I heard Charlie had been cast! He will be great in the role!

          Comment by Diane — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 6:20pm PDT  
        • I agree too!

          The directors know exactly what they’re looking for. As long as they can pull off the chemistry the movie will be great. I’AM SO EXCITED CANNOT WAIT!

          Comment by Tania — Thursday September 5, 2013 @ 5:23pm PDT  
      • amen…..the guy should be patrick dempsey the girl not sure…

        Comment by LJ — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 3:37pm PDT  
        • patrick dempsey? are you 75 years old?

          Comment by 50 cents — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 4:04pm PDT  
        • patrick dempsey is way too old to play christian. i just didn’t want robert pattinson to play christian. no way! and i hope johnson colors her hair brunette. Anastasia is not a blonde! read all the books – hope the movie lives up to them…

          Comment by mitzi — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 6:45pm PDT  
      • I totally agree. I read the three books several times and these actors do not look even close to fitting the part. Johnson is not Anastasia. Emilia Clark was more suitable for the part but when you have Johnson and Griffin for parents you get what you want.

        Comment by Linda Wats — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 6:24pm PDT  
        • No, when you have the AUTHOR OF THE BOOKS who created these characters choosing the cast, SHE gets what SHE wants. Jesus, all of the bitching and moaning as you wrote the books yourselves … the creator has spoken.This is her vision. Give it a rest.

          Comment by Rob Bailey — Tuesday September 3, 2013 @ 8:33am PDT  
          • *as IF you wrote the books yourself ….

            Comment by Rob Bailey — Tuesday September 3, 2013 @ 8:34am PDT  
      • In the book Ana was brunette

        Comment by Anonymous — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 6:46pm PDT  
        • Are you aware that in 2013 people can color their hair?

          Katniss wasn’t a blonde in The Hunger Games either but Jennifer Lawrence underwent a radical new procedure called dying her hair and shockingly she wasn’t blonde anymore and looked the part.

          This movie is based on utter trash but so was Valley of the Dolls so the best everyone involved can hope for is for it to be so bad it’s good and the movie becomes a camp classic on a par with Valley of the Dolls, Mommie Dearest and Showgirls.

          Dakota Johnson actually has talent which puts her light years ahead of most actresses with SAG cards so she’ll do fine. And, if not, she’ll be competing on Dancing with the Stars in about 20 years like Elizabeth Berkley is this season.

          Comment by crystal — Tuesday September 3, 2013 @ 8:08am PDT  
        • thats right and Christian had BLACK hair.

          Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday September 3, 2013 @ 8:22am PDT  
          • Are you sure you read the book? Christian’s hair was COPPER, which is a shade of RED.

            Comment by Smarty — Tuesday September 3, 2013 @ 9:43pm PDT  
      • thats so true

        Comment by Anonymous — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 11:31pm PDT  
    • I am thrilled with Hunnam – PERFECT in my mind

      Comment by Anonymous — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 2:00pm PDT  
    • I Don’t see either one of them as Christian or Anna. I believe Henry Cavill would be PERFECT!!! Not really sure about Anna.

      Comment by Vickie Covino — Tuesday September 3, 2013 @ 8:21am PDT  
    • I cannont believe after waiting several months and weeks to hear who will get cast as Christian and Ana the director caste someone who does NOT fit the looks of the characters! Dakota is young but looks really old. she could play kate the friend and charlie looks like he could be elliot. Why pick someone that is way off to what the author explained the characters to look like? I wonder how the ratings are going to turn out cause by judging by the criticism that its already getting from the cast its not going to be that hit of a movie that we all fans were hoping for. this was a FAIL.

      Comment by lala johnny — Tuesday September 3, 2013 @ 9:02pm PDT  
      • You seriously think that the majority of paying viewers give a hoot as to who’s cast, 90% of them will buy it as soft porn, the rest have the vision to realise that individual interpretation of the characters and who they are are likely to vary greatly as such “FANS” will never agree on the cast and therefore more emphasis will be on ability to act the character than the way they look, Christian by character is a selfish arrogant yet highly attractive sex maniac, and Ana well she’s a shy slightly ditzy pretty girl about to blossom as an equally insatiable sex addict, for every person that is put off because of the looks of the characters, there’ll be 100′s getting it because of them

        Comment by Allan Marriott — Wednesday September 4, 2013 @ 6:41am PDT  
      • i cant believe they chose those two to play the main people they main two have brown hair it will probably sux but at least we have the books

        Comment by joeanne — Tuesday October 1, 2013 @ 11:04pm PDT  

      Comment by Sam — Wednesday September 25, 2013 @ 11:55am PDT  
  • Please tell me Charlie Hunnam will NOT be getting the role of Christian? I can’t handle it if he is.

    Comment by Megan — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:18am PDT  
    • Agreed @Megan. Let’s be real and cast Gilles Marini…I’d buy a ticket!

      Comment by SABRINA OERTLE — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 12:09pm PDT  
  • Is it even considered landing a role when nobody else wanted it?

    Comment by B — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:21am PDT  
    • Can I RT or LIKE this comment? Nobody wanted either role. But their agents wanted a paycheck.

      Comment by cheers — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 9:29am PDT  
    • At least 10,000 actors in LA trying to break out would have traded in their moms for those roles. XD

      Comment by Mike — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 11:26am PDT  
    • LOLOL!!!!!!!! I thought they wanted Ian Somerhaulder. I’m so glad it wasn’t him. I really think he’s a sexy and talented actor. No need to lower himself to this craptastic role. I think it’s going to be a train wreck. All I know is that I’m not putting any $$ into E.L.James’ pocket for her sucky writing.

      Comment by Stacy — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 3:12pm PDT  
      • well it sold like 70million copies,,,did u read the trilogy?

        Comment by donna — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:33pm PDT  
        • I actually have, out of curiosity. I was laughing all throughout because the writing was so atrocious, the book seemed like a bad porn parody or something.

          Comment by Katie — Saturday October 12, 2013 @ 5:00pm PDT  
  • What the what?!

    Comment by Selma — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:22am PDT  
  • No mention of her famous parents?
    I am impressed with your restraint!

    Comment by kmc1213 — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:23am PDT  
    • Second paragraph.

      Comment by Anonymous — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 9:29am PDT  
    • Please read the ENTIRE article and you will read who her famous parents are.

      Comment by Sam — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 1:01pm PDT  
    • They were both mentioned

      Comment by Donna — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:31pm PDT  
  • Coveted by whom? Don’t know any established movie stars or top-notch actors who wanted to touch this one with a ten-foot pole.

    Comment by bessy — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:27am PDT  
    • So you know a lot of famous actors and actresses personally?

      Comment by jb — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 12:41pm PDT  
  • This is actually one film that if I were an actor/actress I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole there is no way it will be able to transfer to the big screen in tact.

    Comment by Katy — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:30am PDT  
    • intact, I’m guessing.

      Comment by tardisrepairman — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 6:14pm PDT  
      • Well he is British…

        Comment by crystal — Tuesday September 3, 2013 @ 8:10am PDT  
  • I don’t care either way about this, but I have a feeling the ’50 Shades’ fans are going to be P*SSED. They’ve thrown out probably a dozen options repeatedly, and I’m going to guess that this celebuspawn model chick is far from what they were picturing and/or hoping for. I’m thinking Universal is setting themselves up for big failure with this project. As a hard R rated film based on a highly mocked adult novel, it was already going to be a hard enough sell at the box office. But you add in a nepotistic “actress” that no one has ever heard of in the lead role…and good luck. Nothing personal against Dakota mind you. I just think Universal is about to epic fail here, and it’s a shame because they’ve had a string of hits lately for the first time in awhile.

    Comment by me0w — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:31am PDT  
    • True. The character of Anastasia is not supposed to be very “waif ish” but this is hollywood that’s all they hire nowadays.

      Comment by Katy — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:35am PDT  
    • OK since my comment was deleted i’ll say it again NO she does not fit the role of Anastasia Steele but what do you expect Hollywood is afraid to hire anyone who doesn’t look perfect.

      Comment by Katy — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:43am PDT  
    • I like how you preface your angry rant with “I don’t care either way about this…”

      Comment by Bob Louise — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:43am PDT  
      • I’ve never read the book and I don’t care about this project because it’s a godawful joke. My obvious anger is actually over Hollywood’s lack of respect for their own audience. You have to listen to the people. This film will likely ONLY be seen by the core, die-hard fan base, so you tick them off and you’re royally screwed.

        Either way, looks like I was right. I just looked up the author;s Facebook page and her announcement on this casting seems to have garnered about 99.9% negative feedback.

        Comment by me0w — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:58am PDT  
        • Except that, that’s exactly what people say about every popular book adaptation, and yet the audience still magically turns up despite Hollywood “ignoring the fans.” The reality is, 99% of America doesn’t know Charlie Hunnam from Garrett Hedlund and couldn’t care less, nor do they really pay attention to casting updates and other shit that we in the Biz find important. The people who respond to the author’s FB status are probably about 1% of the people who have actually read the books.

          This film will bring out the same audience that made Magic Mike a hit, and I don’t think they’re really going to boycott the movie because the main character as more of a Saoirse Ronan than a Dakota Johnson. The film’s an easy sell, regardless of how s–tty the source material is, or how badly they might f–k up the casting, though honestly Hunnam and Johnson are more likely to bring in the more on-the-fence crowd.

          At the end of the day, you have to remember this is Twilight fan fiction that Focus can probably produce for under $30mil, and whether they go with an R or a PG-13, they’re still bound to make at least $50mil, maybe $70mil or higher.

          Comment by Bob Louise — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 9:22am PDT  
          • “because they saw the main character as”*

            Comment by Bob Louise — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 9:23am PDT  
          • Actually I don’t think this film targets the Magic Mike crowd see the problem is the bdsm aspect the book is mostly sex and by mostly I mean MOSTLY lol it will be interesting to see if people will watch it in the theaters or more so at home on dvd.

            Comment by Katy — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 9:43am PDT  
          • You obviously have not read the book. There is no way – ever, under any circumstance – that you could film that book and have it be PG-13. The talk of “going for an R” is in the hope that it can be done without becoming an NC-17. Which is doubtful, if they come even CLOSE to adapting the material faithfully.

            Comment by jj — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 10:04am PDT  
          • Your comments are spot on – The source material is weak so this will be a case of the film being better than the book. It’s budgeted at around $25 mill so it should make money and the product placement will be incredible. Many of the people complaining never read the book, wouldn’t see the movie no matter who was cast so who really care?

            Comment by Francesca — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 1:12pm PDT  
          • “…and yet the audience still magically turns up despite Hollywood ‘ignoring the fans.’”

            Not always, Bob. Although obviously it wasn’t a book, the most recent example was “Dark Shadows.” But let’s not forget that Dakota’s Mom was involved in one of the most notorious fuck-the-fans failures of all time: “Bonfire of the Vanities.”

            Comment by OTOH — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 2:04pm PDT  
          • @Katy, isn’t that exactly what most people went to see Magic Mike for? I ‘speak’ as someone who went to see (and actually really enjoyed) Magic Mike, but outside of the target audience (the showing I went to was PACKED with women, many, if not most, of them over 40).

            @jj, No, I haven’t read the books. Don’t care to. It’s very unlikely I’ll see the film, as I have little interest in Twilight fan-fiction, dreamy men, or BDSM. Magic Mike at least held the promise of a few laughs, and seeing Olivia Munn topless. If I was interested in what 50 Shades has to offer, I’m sure I could probably find better porn online, without having to spend $10 and watch it with a bunch of old women orgasming quietly beside me.

            Comment by Bob Louise — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 3:10pm PDT  
    • I’m so GLAD that they picked an actress that is less “heard of”. Why do we want to see the same actors/actresses play role after role. There are so many talented unknown actors out there. I have no idea if those cast for this film will be good, but I’m excited to find out.

      I am far more likely to attend this movie BECAUSE they didn’t cast the well-known!

      Comment by Tamara — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 6:50pm PDT  
    • Dakota Johnson is actually a great comedic actress, and people like Judd Apatow were big fans of her work on Ben And Kate. This movie seems like a weird choice for her, since she seemed to be rising in the ranks as a comedy star.

      Comment by Jeff Mc2000 — Tuesday September 3, 2013 @ 12:16am PDT  
    • I agree. There is no way that this can be made into a movie that will be able to be see at least an R rating. They would have to leave out a lot of things. I don’t know this actress or actor that have landed the lead rolls and I am afraid that this will be a major FAIL!

      Comment by Kristen — Tuesday September 3, 2013 @ 9:02am PDT  
  • And in the role of Christian Grey… BEN AFFLECK!

    Comment by #NoBatfleck — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:31am PDT  
  • Coveted by most up and coming actors/actresses bessey. Sure any established talent would likely pass but regardless of how much you might hate the source material it is a huge opportunity to new faces looking to make a name for themselves.

    Comment by Tony — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:35am PDT  
    • Thats the thing though this film could make or break a career its very tricky/slippery slope.

      Comment by Jessie — Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:44am PDT  
  |  More Comments

Sorry, comments are closed for this article.