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Fifty Shades of Grey director opens up about clash with E.L. James

‘Every scene was fought over,’ Sam Taylor-Johnson said

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Fifty Shades of Grey was not a labor of love as far as the working relationship between director Sam Taylor-Johnson and author E.L. James. Word on their creative clashes first broke out before the film hit theaters and was further fueled by the news that Taylor-Johnson had cut certain scenes and would not return to helm the sequels. The filmmaker opened up about the situation in recent interviews, saying there were “two different creative visions” at war.

It was “her vision versus mine, and they were polar opposite,” Taylor-Johnson told The Hollywood Reporter. “Every scene was fought over. It was tough. It was like wading uphill through sticky tar. Her thing was, ‘This is what the fans expect.’ I’d be like, ‘Well, let’s try and hit those marks but create a new universe at the same time.’”

According to reports, James, whose real name is Erika Leonard, sought unprecedented creative control over the film adaptations of her books. “We’d often clash and have to find a way to work through that to get to some sort of resolution,” the director said at the time.

Taylor-Johnson told THR “there was a tentative plan” for her to work on Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. However, she parted ways a month after the first film hit theaters. “[The studio] wanted to see how the first one went before any discussion. It went well in terms of box office, but less well with my relationship with Erika,” she said.

In a separate interview with the U.K.’s Sunday Times, Taylor-Johnson remarked, “I like everyone — and I get really confused when they don’t like me. I was so confused by E.L. James. I don’t understand when I can’t navigate a person, when there’s no synergy.”

She’ll never “ever watch” any of the sequels because she has “literally zero interest.” Though she says she doesn’t regret the decision to direct the first Fifty Shades film, when pressed further, she said, “With the benefit of hindsight would I go through it again? Of course I wouldn’t. I’d be mad.”

Fifty Shades Darker premiered in theaters this past February and the end-credits revealed the first footage from Fifty Shades Freed, which brings back Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele to close out the saga. James Foley (Netflix’s House of Cards) came in to succeed Taylor-Johnson as director and helms the trilogy’s finale, which opens Feb. 9, 2018.