Film director Joe Wright could go from Anna Karenina to another ubiquitous Ana. He is being hotly tipped as the frontrunner to direct the film adaptation of EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. And seeing as Keira Knightley has played the female lead in most of his recent productions, odds that the actress could become the sexually submissive Anastasia Steele are set to be slashed.
Sources quoted in The Hollywood Reporter suggest that Wright, who has a longstanding relationship with Focus and Universal which paid $5 million to secure the film rights for the trilogy, is currently the studios’ first choice to direct Kelly Marcel’s screenplay adaptation of the sexually explicit books. Although there is no deal officially in place and all parties have declined to comment.
Three out of Wright’s previous four films with Focus (Anna Karenina, Hanna, Atonement and Pride & Prejudice) have starred Knightley, 28. The actress has some acting experience when it comes to S&M, too, having played a hysteria patient who gets spanked with a hairbrush in 2011 David Cronenberg film A Dangerous Method.
If British-born Wright wins the Fifty Shades gig he will work alongside producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti on the hugely anticipated films. EL James’ “mummy porn” books, following the relationship between Ana and troubled billionaire Christian Grey, were last year’s publishing sensation selling over 10.5 million copies in the UK alone (making it the best-selling book of all time in this country).
Speculation as to who will play the lead roles has been rife, with bookies taking bets on some of Hollywood’s biggest names: Ryan Gosling, the Vampire Diaries' Ian Somerhalder (who recently said he’d be keen to take on the role) and Michael Fassbender are among the favourites to play Christian. Mila Kunis, Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson have all been tipped for Ana.
Knightley, who got married last week, might have other ideas if Wright comes knocking about this particular role, however. In an interview with MTV in December the actress appeared to rule herself out: “You know, I normally don't like to give a definite about anything [but] I can definitely say [my next movie] will not be Fifty Shades of Grey.” How about the one after that, Keira?