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If you know a bunch about Fifty Shades of Grey and its two sequels, you may already know the film franchise went through a very long list of potential stars before landing on Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. In fact, Pretty Little Liars and more recently Katy Keene star Lucy Hale once auditioned for the role well before she really even understood some of the BDSM-related language the books and movies made famous.
In fact, while doing promotion for her new movie A Nice Girl Like You, the actress revealed that she did audition for Fifty Shades of Grey, though it was a bit weirder than she expected. Although she did point out the casting team wasn’t having her actually read from dialogue that showed up in the movies, but rather sexually edgy dialogue that would have the same feel as E.L. James' work on the big screen.
It wasn't actual scenes from the movie, but it was a very sexually forward monologue. And I didn't really even know what I was saying. I was a little naïve about it all. But yes, I did audition. I did. Obviously didn't get the part. But it was good for me because it scared the crap out of me to do an audition like that.
The audition ended up making her a little uncomfortable, though she told the AP elsewhere in the interview that she was pretty young at the time she was auditioning to play Anastasia Steele. This would line up with the casting timeline, as it was way back in 2013 that Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam were officially cast as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. Hunnam later left the project in favor of Jamie Dornan and filming commenced on Fifty Shades of Grey in 2015.
While Fifty Shades as a franchise still feels fairly contemporary given Fifty Shades Freed hit theaters back in 2018, it was actually quite a long time ago that Universal’s film franchise started casting. If Lucy Hale had auditioned in 2013, she would have been around 24 years old at the time and apparently the material was a little more mature than what she was used to, which makes sense given during that time she was still starring in the teen drama Pretty Little Liars.
Previously Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson told THR that what the women reading for Anastasia Steele were reading came from Persona, the 1966 film from Ingmar Bergman. This squares with what Lucy Hale revealed in her recent interview.
We gave every actress who came in to read four pages of a monologue from Ingmar Bergman's Persona. It was a really long piece to learn, and it had a really complex, emotional journey in just that one passage. It meant that we could see quite clearly who was capable of taking a transition on this journey. Dakota came in very early, and she was really strong and really focused. And I kind of thought she was going to be Anastasia and then saw a few hundred other girls to make sure.
The movie in question is about a woman having an identity crisis and features backstories involving sex and abortions. A lot of women read the four-page monologue to prep for Fifty Shades of Grey, and Lucy Hale is in good company along with Dakota Johnson, Alicia Vikander, Imogen Poots, Elizabeth Olsen and Shailene Woodley, who were all on the shortlist for the gig.
Ultimately, Sam Taylor-Johnson said Dakota Johnson was an “easy” pick for Anastasia Steele and Jamie Dornan later came along and crushed the audition. Years later, Lucy Hale doesn’t seem too bent out of shape about missing out on the role either. So, this seems to be a situation of alls well that ends well. Or at least, alls well that ends in the Red Room.