February 02, 2015 06:55 PM

To be allowed into Fifty Shades of Grey‘s infamous Red Room, it seems only right you’d have to beg for it.

At least, that’s how it happened for Marcia Gay Harden.

“I did beg Sam [Taylor-Johnson, the director] to show me the room,” Harden tells PEOPLE, “and she did – not when it was occupied, so to speak.”

The Oscar winner, 55, stars as Dr. Grace Trevelyan Grey, the adoptive mother of Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), in the big-screen adaptation of E L James‘s erotic novel. Though Harden didn’t have any of her own scenes in the BDSM sanctuary, she did say it was “kind of beautiful.”

Marcia Gay Harden
Ryan Miller/Getty

“I did some research that made me realize that it is a romance,” she explains. “It’s a beautiful, red-leather, satin room of pain and pleasure. It’s not tawdry in the way that you might find it on the Internet.”

Harden says the movies is ultimately about “the possibility that love can conquer all, even if it’s a spicier kind of love than one might be expecting.”

It’s worth noting Harden did film one “spicy” scene – when Christian invites his submissive girlfriend Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) to a family dinner and clandestinely pleasures her under the table.

She recalls of filming: “For me as the mom, to pick up on little things going on and have that inner smile, that was a lot of fun.”

Another thing Harden advises could be a lot of fun? A viewing date for couples.

“Every guy whose wife has read it – and hopefully the other way around, as well – the men who know I was in it, I’ll say, ‘Oh, did you read the book?’ and they’ll say, ‘No, my wife did. And, I gotta tell you, didn’t have to work very hard that month!’ ” she says.

Fifty Shades of Grey hits theaters on Feb. 13.

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