Fifty Shades of Grey made more than $569 million worldwide, but not everyone saw the blockbuster adaptation of E.L. James’ best-selling novel. Take Fifty Shades of Grey screenwriter Kelly Marcel, who told Brett Easton Ellis on his podcast that she wasn’t able to watch the film because her “heart really was broken” by the production process.
Marcel explained that when she was hired by Universal to write the script, she was given an incredible amount of leeway to make the film different from its source material. (Marcel said she chopped up the timeline and removed a lot of dialogue.) But when she turned in the draft, it was clear a more straightforward adaptation was what everyone wanted.
“[James] ended up coming into my house for a week, and we kind of wrote side-by-side and put things back in,” Marcel said. “She would always let me argue and fight for things that I felt passionate about. In the end, I think we ended up with a draft that was a halfway compromise, but she had still been very brave about what she had let go. Ultimately, [James] did have all of the control.”
Fifty Shades of Grey is Marcel’s biggest screenwriting credit to date, but she said the difference between what she imagined and what ended up on screen was too big of a mountain for her to over come.
“I don’t see it out of any kind of bitterness or anger or anything like that,” she said about her decision to forgo watching the finished product. “I just don’t feel like I can watch it without feeling some pain about how different it is to what I initially wrote.”
For his part, Ellis was very vocal about his desire to write Fifty Shades of Grey, and even took some issue with Marcel when it was announced she had been hired for the film.
“Kelly Marcel?!? KELLY MARCEL?!? Kelly Marcel is WRITING the script for “Fifty Shades of Grey”?!? THIS is the movie they want to make? ARGH,” he wrote on Twitter in 2012.
Listen to Ellis and Marcel discuss the film and its production in the podcast below.