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Gus Van Sant comes from nowhere to angle for Fifty Shades

With Bret Easton Ellis seeming at long last to have gotten the message that no, he will have absolutely nothing to do with the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, no matter how often he creepily insists that James Deen would be perfect to star whilst staring, unblinking, into your own eyes (again, please do not Google James Deen if you’re unfamiliar with the name and at work or around children), another long-time chronicler of the beautiful and vacant has proven a source of unexpected ardour for the project: Film-maker Gus Van Sant, director of American arthouse classics like Gerry, My Own Private Idaho and Drugstore Cowboy, is seemingly so eager to steer the book to the screen that he’s already filmed one of the sex scenes, entirely unsolicited and off his own back, if that phrasing isn’t too misleading given the circumstances.

Van Sant cast as his Christian Grey Alex Pettyfer, familiar to the rarely sighted overlap between fans of Steven Soderbergh movies and fans of male strip shows as The Kid in Soderbergh’s male stripper romp/treatise on the 21st century economy Magic Mike. No one has been able to confirm as yet who played Anastasia Steele in the scene, and all involved are keen to stress that Pettyfer hasn’t been cast in anything, just that he was willing to participate in the test to allow Van Sant to make his pitch that bit more convincingly.

Again, while it’s important to emphasise that this means essentially nothing to the finished film other than that Gus Van Sant is happy having his desire to make it in the public domain even if he isn’t hired, circumstances would certainly seem to have aligned in Van Sant’s favour: Rights to the novels have been acquired by Focus Features, the production company with whom Van Sant worked on his recent films Milk and Promised Land; Van Sant currently has no projects on his slate, leaving him free to start work on the adaptation as soon as the script is finished; and having the director of To Die For, Elephant and Last Days on board would certainly lend the film the air of prestige of which it has been robbed by, frankly, every other thing about it.

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Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris Ward writes and says things about books and music and films and what have you, even when no one is reading or listening.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.

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