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Gus Van Sant Makes a Bid for 'Fifty Shades of Grey' with Steamy Alex Pettyfer Sex Scene

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio | Thompson on Hollywood April 24, 2013 at 2:31PM

Most of the steamy buzz surrounding the film adaptation of E.L. James' erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" remains cloaked in rumor. But we do know that the film will likely be rated NC-17 and that Gus van Sant has just shot a sex scene with "Magic Mike" star Alex Pettyfer in a bid for the director's chair.
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Alex Pettyfer in 'Magic Mike'
Alex Pettyfer in 'Magic Mike'

Most of the steamy buzz surrounding the film adaptation of E.L. James' erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" remains cloaked in rumor. What producer Michael De Luca confirmed at CinemaCon is that Universal and Focus Features are not ready to talk casting yet, and that what you imagine when you read something and what you actually put on the screen in this case are two different things. Don't expect a literal adaptation of the novel, he said: “the movie will be different from the book," which is "literal by design...The cinematic language doesn’t have to be explicit.” 

But we do know that the film will likely be rated NC-17 and that Gus van Sant has just shot a sex scene with "Magic Mike" star Alex Pettyfer in a bid for the director's chair.

Though Pettyfer has not been offered the role of Anastasia Steele's dashing and controlling deflower-er Christian Grey, Van Sant cast him in his audition tape (no video unfortunately!). The studio likes the 23-year-old actor--he's about to star in Universal's remake of the 1981 young romance "Endless Love."

Screenwriter Kelly Marcel -- who wrote the upcoming Disney drama "Saving Mr. Banks" and is a writer on TV's "Terra Nova" -- is currently wrapping up a draft, but no word yet on who will officially direct "Grey." Van Sant, whose filmography has traversed both the arthouse ("My Own Private Idaho," "Elephant") and the mainstream ("Milk," "Promised Land"), isn't a bad choice. He combines tastefulness, filmmaking chops, bravery in the realm of the intimate, and has worked well throughout his career with young actors. He's respected and could lend the otherwise sensational and salacious material some needed prestige.

This article is related to: 50 Shades of Grey, Gus Van Sant, Alex Pettyfer


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.