Written By: Tonja M. Bynum
While not exactly the Triple Crown, make no mistake that the casting of a big budget movie is no less a horse race. You have your thoroughbreds, those big names who throw their name in the ring that are expected to perform. On the outside, looking for the opportunity are your dark horses; those who can come in and surprise you and sometimes come in and take it all. While your thoroughbreds are the safer bet never underestimate that dark horse. Such a horse won in what had to be the most sought after role of its age when virtual British unknown Vivien Leigh went up against greats such as Bette Davis to win the coveted role of Scarlett O’Hara. In the case of the highly anticipated film version of the book and series “Fifty Shades of Grey” the gates are open and the players are off. So many names are being bantered about who will play the lead roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, from Kristen Stewart to Ian Somerhalder; it is my hope that the powers that be can do justice to these characters in their selection.
As someone who read the series the danger lies in being able to finding someone who can both fulfill the vision and match the hype to keep everyone happy. Admittedly, I did not think they were the most well written works of literature; but it is the relationship between the characters that is the ultimate draw and appeal. Theirs is a complex relationship, a strange mix of master-servant that journey to love. With the heavy sexual themes of sadism and control much will be gambled on the physical, it will take strong actors to portray such acts as well as the growth each character experiences. These roles are strictly no holds barred and yet they will be required to show every vulnerability and restraint in the performance.
Anastasia Steele is a young, sexually naïve woman who is unaware of herself and is a virtual unformed ball of clay that through her relationship with Christian is tested and transformed to someone way beyond her own expectations. While not an obvious choice, Maggie Grace (the daughter from “Taken”) is a dark horse who has both the physical beauty and presence that can go from awkwardness to grace with a charm all her own. Ingénue in her looks, in “Taken” she proved to all that she has the capacity to be both innocent and strong at once to take us through Anastasia’s journey. She is a diamond in the rough ready to shine, and this could be the ideal vehicle.
Christian is the more pivotal role, with all his various complexities and ‘Shades’. Handsome and cold, Christian is domineering and business like one minute with a tortured past that makes him strangely childlike. His salvation lies in his relationship with Anastasia, and it is she that is able to draw him out and make him whole. My first choice for the role of Christian Grey would have to be Zac Efron. While well known, he is not someone you would expect to cast. We have watched him through the years grow and develop from a boy to a young man. Squeaky clean to his Disney roots he transformed himself to full-fledged man in “The Lucky One”. So much so that he shocked me at points with flint like looks and a controlled violent capacity that had been unseen in other performances. And while he has the looks, he still has much to show us regarding his acting range. Similar to Christian Grey there is much more to him than meets the eye, and Zac is cerebral enough to peel back those layers. This role would be a natural progression that was merely on his way to firmly establishing himself as an adult. He could be exciting to see in this part, having to stretch and surpass his own as well as others expectations.
I believe that together these two could scorch the screen as well as the sheets with a chemistry that will surprise the audience while being true to the characters they portray. Now that the race is on, let’s see who the studios bet on to win this Box Office sweepstake.