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'Heartbroken' Fifty Shades writer on behind-the-scenes drama and why the film is too painful to watch

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The screenwriter behind this year's blockbuster adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey has revealed that dramatic changes to her script made the final edit of the film too painful for her to watch.

Kelly Marcel, who is also the writer behind Saving Mr. Banks and adventure TV series Terra Nova, told the Bret Easton Ellis podcast that producers on the film backtracked on their support of her "crazy and artistic" non-linear script for the movie version of EL James' erotic bestseller.

"I very much wanted to do something different with the screenplay, and when I spoke to the studio and the producers and made that quite clear, they were very enthusiastic about that and kind of loved the things I wanted to do," the 41-year-old writer and actress told the podcast this week. 

"I didn't want the story to be linear; I wanted it to begin at the end of the film, and for us to meet in the middle. So you start with the spanking, and you have these sort of flashes that go throughout the film. ... I wanted to take the inner goddess out, and all of Ana's inner monologue. ... I wanted to remove a lot of the dialogue. I felt it could be a really sexy film if there wasn't so much talking in it."

Screenwriter Kelly Marcel

Screenwriter Kelly Marcel

But Marcel says, when she delivered the script, she realised that the producers' support of her vision was "utter bullshit" and that - even after the two women thrashed it out - author EL James still had full editorial control over the screenplay: 

"When I delivered that script was when I realized that all of them saying, 'Yeah, absolutely this is what we want!', and, 'You can write anything you like and get crazy and artistic with it' — that was utter, utter bullshit. Rightly so. Erika was like, 'This isn't what I want it to be, and I don't think this is the film the fans are looking for.' ... She ended up coming into my house for a week, and we kind of wrote side-by-side and put things back in. She would always let me argue and fight for things that I felt passionate about. In the end, I think we ended up with a draft that was a halfway compromise, but she had still been very brave about what she had let go. Ultimately, Erika did have all of the control.

"My heart really was broken by that process, I really mean it. I don't see it out of any kind of bitterness or anger or anything like that. I just don't feel like I can watch it without feeling some pain about how different it is to what I initially wrote," she adds. 

Sam Taylor-Johnson with

Director Sam Taylor-Johnson on-set with the film's stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson

It's no secret that there were behind-the-scenes tensions brewing in the filming of Fifty Shades of Grey, with director Sam Taylor-Johnson and EL James clashing over many of the finer points of the book-to-film transition.

This included a point where Anastasia was supposed to whisper the safe word "red" to Christian Grey during a steamy exchange, but EL James overruled Taylor-Johnson and other filmmakers to keep the remark as "stop" - in keeping with her original book.

Taylor-Johnson withdrew from her directing stint for the sequel and admitted that the filming process "was difficult, I’m not going to lie"

In this latest podcast, Marcel doesn't shy away from the fact that there were creative difficulties between director and writer. 

"There was a moment where we were weeks away from shooting," she says. "And it was clear that that was gonna be a struggle. It's very difficult to come on as a director and to be handcuffed that way and not be able to fulfill your creative vision because there are certain restrictions on you. But at the same time, I would argue that it was very clear that that was the way it was going to be."

Fifty Shades writer EL James

Fifty Shades writer EL James

EL James will retain close control over the next installment of the film, Fifty Shades Darker, due out in 2017. She has hired her husband Niall Leonard, who has written for TV shows such as Ballykissangel, to manage the screenplay for the sequel.

Last month, the author announced that she would be releasing a new version of her Fifty Shades bestseller, told from the perspective of its male protagonist. 

Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told By Christian will explore the "desires and motivations" of the enigmatic millionaire, from the secret behind his success as an entrepreneur to his penchant for BDSM, the creation of his infamous "red room of pain" - and of course, why he is drawn to his would-be spanking cohort, Anastasia Steele. 

However, it emerged today that a manuscript for the novel has been stolen and a police investigation is underway amid the fear that extracts may be leaked or sold illegally. 

Photos: Rex Features

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