For most directors, making a movie that would go on to earn half a billion dollars means instant power in Hollywood. The opposite happened to Sam Taylor-Johnson.
The filmmaker directed the first Fifty Shades of Grey movie, which earned over $571 million worldwide in 2015. After it was all over, Taylor-Johnson expected the phone to start ringing with offers for other major projects.
“You would be surprised at how …No, you wouldn’t be surprised, sadly. Nothing,” Taylor-Johnson told IndieWire in a recent interview when asked about life after Fifty Shades‘ massive success. “I literally was scrambling still, in exactly the same position I was prior to that. I’d say to my agent, ‘I love this book. I really love it. What’s the deal with it?’ ‘They’re going to Steven, Steven, David, David, and John.’ But I know I’m fully capable.”
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Taylor-Johnson had previously directed Nowhere Boy in 2008 — where she met and fell in love with husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson when he was 18 and she was 42 — and had experience with short films. Since Fifty Shades, she parted ways with the steamy franchise, helmed two episodes of the Netflix show Gypsy and is now back with her first big-screen project since 2015.
Despite Fifty Shades‘ success, she still had to fight to get A Million Little Pieces made, an adaptation of the controversial book by James Frey, even though she had proven success and experience.
“It drives me crazy, not just for myself, because I have all that experience and I’m pretty ballsy, I can punch through doors when they’ve slammed in my face,” Taylor-Johnson said. “But I still want to weep at the sense of inequality, let alone for other young filmmakers trying to make their way, or someone who’s made their first film trying to get their second film. It’s rough, and it shouldn’t be that rough.”
A Million Little Pieces is screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.