Angelina Jolie’s ’50 Shades of Grey’: When Big Stars Just Don’t Work

Angelina JolieIf at any time in the past few months you have passed a bookstore window, watched a Saturday Night Live clip, or taken a second look at the slightly-too-on-edge woman clutching a veiled piece of reading material on the subway, then you’re probably familiar with Fifty Shades of Grey

E.L. James‘ erotic novel has become an international bestseller, which, in this day and age, almost guarantees a movie adaptation. And with a book this popular, a studio is bound to opt for the biggest names imaginable to sign on board — for instance, Deadline reports rumors that have surrounded Angelina Jolie’s interest in directing the movie. But sometimes, movies are better served straying away from superstars like these.

Jolie’s feature debut as a director was 2011’s In the Land of Blood and Honey, a hard-hitting account of a young romantic couple suffering through the Bosnian War. Whereas a story like this is more than capable of drawing attention from the public, the larger-than-life name of “Angelina Jolie” seemed to have overshadowed the film’s actual content. Anybody could have told you, “Angelina Jolie is directing a movie.” Of course, their following statement would likely have been, “It’s, uh… about war, or something.” As such, the film never really took off appropriately. People who specifically want an Angelina Jolie movie want aren’t necessary looking for a gritty war drama.

The same problem often arrives in regards to casting. It was difficult to believe that superstar George Clooney could endure the problems of an everyday family man in the otherwise terrific The Descendants. It was hard to get past the Meryl Streep-ness in The Iron Lady‘s Margaret Thatcher. Sometimes, a smaller presence does wonders in the depiction of a large character or story.

And that’s what Fifty Shades of Grey is. Whatever your opinion on the phenomenon, it is certainly just that: a phenomenon. In order to stress the inherent power of Fifty Shades of Gray, studios would be wise to downplay the names onboard. Think about how many people knew who Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were before Twilight — the Shades trilogy would be wisest to build its own stars. Director included.

50 Shades of Grey

[Photo Credit: Adriana M. Barraza /]


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