"I thought it was a way to get [author E.L. James] to see my enthusiasm," Gus Van Sant said of filming a sex scene for 'Fifty Shades of Grey'
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Good Will Hunting filmmaker, 71, recalled submitting a steamy scene he filmed with Pettyfer, 33, as a number of directors vied for the opportunity to direct the first movie in the series.
"It was one of the sex scenes. I thought it was a way to get [author E.L. James] to see my enthusiasm," Van Sant recalled of his pitch. "It’s hard, in the ramp-up, to get people to understand where you’re going if you actually make the movie."
"Some people make sizzle reels. That might’ve been more the way to go. But Alex Pettyfer really wanted to do it, so I thought, 'We can just do a scene,' " he added. "And we did. And we showed them."
The Wrap reported on Van Sant and Pettyfer's scene at the time, though neither Pettyfer nor Van Sant ultimately worked on the Fifty Shades trilogy. Sam Taylor-Johnson ultimately directed the first Fifty Shades movie, while James Foley directed its two sequels. Jamie Dornan ultimately portrayed Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson starred as lead character Anastasia Steele.
While speaking with THR, Van Sant said he could not recall the name of the actress who worked as Pettyfer's scene partner in the scene they filmed.
Van Sant was among a number of filmmakers who were in the running to direct the first Fifty Shades movie. In 2013, Variety reported that Joe Wright, Patty Jenkins, Bill Condon, Bennett Miller and Steven Soderbergh were each considered to make the movie before the job fell to Taylor-Johnson, 56.
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Fifty Shades of Grey earned $166 million at the domestic box office and $570 million worldwide upon its theatrical release on Feb. 11, 2015. The movie was the 11th highest-grossing film of that year globally; each sequel also generated more than $370 million at the worldwide box office.
In the time since Van Sant's brush with Fifty Shades, the two-time Oscar nominee has made the movies The Sea of Trees (2015) and Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot (2018). He has also worked as a director on the Gucci miniseries Ouverture of Something that Never Ended (2020) and most recently on FX's Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans.
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