E L James explains her reasoning for selling her sexy saga to Universal Studios and Focus Features

By Alison Schwartz
March 27, 2012 01:30 PM
Michael Lionstar

“I really like clever men who challenge you,” says the Fifty Shades of Grey author – and she’s not even referring to her erotic novels’ main character, Christian Grey.

In her exclusive interview with EW.com, the woman who writes under the pseudonym E L James is actually referring to Jeb Brody, Focus Features president of production, whose sense of humor helped convince her to sell the movie rights of her trilogy to Universal Studios and Focus Features.

The price tag? About $5 million, reportedly, to bring the not-safe-for-work saga that’s easily the hottest book around to the big screen, a feat every major studio in Hollywood seemed to want to take on.

RELATED: Fifty Shades of Grey: Should It Be a Movie – Or on TV?

But if James’s soft side for a sharp guy sounds anything like her heroine, college grad-turned-sex goddess Anastasia Steele, take note: She may have more in common with Grey, the story’s blush-worthy but troubled hunk, who has a history of dominant-submissive relationships.

James, a West London-based TV executive and mother of two, says her decision also came down to the studio’s ability to grant her the pull she wanted in the movie-making process, including approvals for script and casting.

“This makes me sound like a control freak, doesn’t it?” she says. But bossiness aside, when it comes time to adapt the books’ focus on those sex scenes, she adds, “I think that’s going to be a collaborative process.”

Fair point well made, Ms. James, Grey would say.

FULL INTERVIEW: More from James on EW.com