We spoke about the pressures of taking on the iconic role of Christian Grey, getting into the “mood” for the sex scenes, what sort of research went into the making of such a sexy film and even his plans for Valentine’s Day.
We spoke to you at the premiere, which was such an intense event, can you tell us a bit about that?
It’s hard to quantify it because it was… mad. We had an idea, it’s not like we were expecting no one to turn out but it was quite something. It was a frenzied experience. I enjoyed it and I heard it got a good response.
[pull_quote_right]You’re still naked, and there is a vulnerability with that[/pull_quote_right]This character is so ridiculously elusive, so enigmatic, what’s keeping you grounded. What’s keeping your feet on the ground?
There are a core of fundamental things that matter. Family and mates, and none of that is changing for me. Outside of that it might change and there is a lot of hype around the film and who this character is, but I have the same group of friends from when I was a small boy. They were there last night [at the premiere], and I think they looked away at certain points. One of my sister’s said she had her purse in front of her eyes a lot!
What are you going to take away from this experience onto your future projects, including any potential sequels?
You learn so much from every project. There is such a progression of his character through the books so if we get a chance to make the sequels it will be fun to explore that. All the things in the first book and film, that you feel he is possibly incapable of like love and marriage and being a father, we get to see all of that. We get to see him open up in a way that you don’t expect for someone who is so closed off and tortured.
What was it like with the sex scenes. Did you have any awkward moments?
We giggled a lot. We were very comfortable, Dakota and I, and very cleverly all the red room stuff was filmed in the final week. We built up trust, a rapport and were at ease with one another. We also had a friendship which meant we understood one another and could make one another laugh easily. You’re still naked, especially Dakota, and there is a vulnerability with that. It puts you in an uncomfortable space. It’s applicable to other situations, where you are right on the edge of being too uncomfortable and you often are almost on the precipice of bursting out into laughter. There was a lot of that as you can imagine. We were serious about is and focussed as well as professional when the cameras were rolling, but sometimes we just started giggling. Dakota is very quick to laugh, sometimes she would cry so much from laughing.
Have you ever met anyone, or know anyone, who even remotely resembles Christian Grey?
There are not many people like him. He is a fantasy. I’ve never met anyone so powerful or so successful in business. It’s not really the crowd I swing with.
I wanted to get an idea on him based on the tragedy that he’s come from early on and how that has formed the man that he is. How that manifests itself in how he approaches business and relationships and love. How incapable he is of having “regular relationships”, but how he is astoundingly impressive and astute when he comes to doing business.
How important was it that Sam [Taylor Johnson] was on board as a director, giving it that female perspective?
The book are written by a woman. The whole story is told from the perspective of a girl, so I think it was a clever idea having a female director. Her past work and as an artist and a filmmaker meant that the sex was dealt with in a very classy and sophisticated way. She’s a classy and sophisticated woman. She is definitely one of my favourite people in the world. We are so close now. She has become a friend for life.
Can you see the series going forward without her?
I would love for her to be involved, and the idea when we all signed up was for us to be in it together and honour the trilogy and do these three films. But those questions are better asked towards Universal or Focus who make the films. I would certainly love to do it with her because I love her.
What else did you have to do in terms of research?
I knew nothing about S&M. I obviously knew it existed, but had no idea how rife it was. It’s a massive scene in pretty much every city and town in the world where there is some form of it going on. I delved into that a bit, there are a lot of interesting sites online that I was pushed towards. I saw some stuff first hand, in someone else’s version of the Red Room. I wanted to get an idea of the energy in the room. It wasn’t all applicable to Christian Grey, but I took some of that stuff away.
Did it give you some sympathy to those sorts of people?[pull_quote_right]Am I going to play sexual sadists for life? Probably not.[/pull_quote_right]
Totally. They care for it and take it very very seriously. There are a number of different approaches to it. The whole thing about that world is no one is dragging you into it. It’s not prostitution. There were no pimps involved. There were many men who were submissive. They have chosen it and want it. As much as we sit here and say “i can’t believe you’ve shown someone getting hit like that”, they’ve asked for that. It’s what they are into. We can’t bemoan them for that as some people are into it. Some very powerful people, often like Christian Grey, are a submissives actually. He was too in the story for a long time. It’s people have power at work and when they finish they want to release themselves of that. I understand that.
The whole movement of S&M is built on trust. I’m having to defend it and I’m not even into it. It doesn’t do it for me either way. If a man or woman is too close to their limit and it becomes more pain than pleasure, that’s what safe words are for. They say one word and it stops. They are really serious about that. No one is doing it against their will.
Is it frustrating for you that a lot of that commentary has come from people who haven’t even seen the film yet?
Of course. Some people can be idiots.
In the past for your work on ‘The Fall’ you’ve spoken about not being typecast. With this film that is going to mushroom even more. How are you going to avoid it?
I consider Paul Spector (Dornan’s character in BBC Drama ‘The Fall’) and Christian Grey to be very different. I can understand why people make comparisons. They are both very interesting and complicated guys who are tortured but for very different reasons. I don’t consider myself to be like that in the slightest. Am I going to play sexual sadists for life? Probably not. I will continue and am very happy to explore characters who are hard to get inside the mind of and hard to understand. That will always appeal to me. I think I also have something lighter in me and welcome that opportunity too.
So what have you got lined up next?
Nothing I can confirm yet. There are a couple of things, one of which is a war film which will be a departure for me. It’s a pretty cool character actually and I’m really excited about it actually. I’d like to do a rom-com, I think it’s a great genre if done well. There are some shockers out there though.
Is that the sort of thing you’ll watch on Valentine’s?
We’re going to have a very low-key day… I won’t be going anywhere near a cinema! I’ll probably cook some food and have some red wine, maybe watch a film. I love a good rom-com, not ashamed to say it.
Fifty Shades of Grey is in cinemas NOW