Australian actress Bella Heathcote, 28, has been cast as Leila Williams, the onetime BDSM partner of kink billionaire Christian Grey, in next February’s Fifty Shades Darker. The film’s official Twitter account acknowledged the news with a photo of Heathcote from the premiere of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (out now), in which she plays Jane Bennet.
Fifty Shades of Grey opened last Valentine’s Day and set the record for the highest grossing February opening weekend ever with $85 million. The film eventually grossed $571 milion around the world.
Plans were announced for the sequel to open in theaters this month, but production troubles persisted, with the original film’s director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel both bowing out. Niall Leonard, the husband of the book franchise’s author E L James, was brought on to adapt Darker and the last in the trilogy, Fifty Shades Freed, and Glengarry Glen Ross director James Foley was announced to take the helm and shoot the second and third films consecutively.
Stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, both Razzie Award nominees for their work in the first film, will return as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. In addition to Heathcote, Kim Basinger has also joined the cast.