The final installment of the Fifty Shades trilogy, Fifty Shades Freed, hit cinemas last weekend and no one was more relieved to see the end of it than the actors that play its romantic leads, Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson.
While they may be forever synonymous with Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, respectively, it’s clear that the two are ready and willing to break away from the franchise.
With the actors so clearly not wanting to promote the film together – they haven’t appeared in a single talk show slot together, with Dornan having appeared on the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, The Ellen Show, Conan and James Corden, while Johnson featured on Fallon and Seth Meyers - it’s pretty clear that the two won’t be working together again any time soon. This is totally understandable due to the awkwardness of the sex scenes they had to shoot together, but mind you, in spite of the rumours that they didn’t get along on set, Dornan has said that he and Johnson have a “mutual love and respect for each other” and “brother-sister” type of relationship.
As for carving their own paths now, Dornan has been particularly open about how “fed up” he is with the series and said he’s “gettin' too old for...for this” when posed the possibility of starring in film adaptations of the books Fifty Shades author E.L. James wrote from Christian’s perspective. Moreover, of the two actors, Dornan needs the series the least.
Even before Fifty Shades, the Irish thespian had forged a good career in television, playing Sheriff Graham Humbert in the ABC series Once Upon a Time and serial killer Paul Spector in the BBC series The Fall, earning numerous awards for the latter.
In relation to film though, his biggest commercial successes remain the Fifty Shades movies. In the last couple of years, there were high hopes for his films Antropoid, in which he starred opposite Cillian Murphy, Netflix war movie The Siege of Jadotville, and supernatural thriller The 9th Life of Louis Drax. However, all three failed to impress either critics or audiences.
Still, Dornan has proven himself to be more than a pretty face, with The Fall particularly showcasing his talents as an actor. Already in the pipeline, the Derry-born actor has Emma Forrest’s debut feature Untogether, Peter Dinklage starrer My Dinner with Hervé, and another war drama, A Private War, on the way. However, it’s Robin Hood (from Peaky Blinders and Black Mirror director Otto Bathurst) that he seems to be banking on to make him box office gold again.
Meanwhile, Dakota Johnson has struggled to make herself the household name Dornan is. After supporting roles in such films as The Five Year Engagement, 21 Jump Street, and The Social Network helped her land the Fifty Shades gig, she took further supporting roles in the likes of Cymbeline, Black Mass, and A Bigger Splash in the years in between the Fifty Shades movies.
She also demonstrated a penchant for indie projects, starring in a couple of shorts as well as independent production Chloe and Theo, but 2016 rom com How to Be Single was clearly her biggest attempt to make her a viable star outside the Fifty Shades franchise. While the movie did ok at the box office, making over $112 million from a $38 million budget, critics were unimpressed and the movie served more as a vehicle for Rebel Wilson than it proved Johnson could do comedy. Moreover, audiences preferred Bad Moms that year, and it was this film that got a sequel.
Next, Johnson will star in a remake of Suspiria, which sounds comparable to Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. It’s got a fab cast between Tilda Swinton, Grace Chloe Moretz and Mia Goth, plus all eyes are now firmly on its director, Luca Guadagnino, after his massive success with Call Me By Your Name.
Other projects the actress has coming up include Bad Times at the El Royale, co-starring Chris Hemsworth, Sound of Metal, in which she plays a singer to Matthias Schoenaerts’ metal drummer, and yet another quirky indie flick in The Peanut Butter Falcon. All eyes, however, will likely be on Suspiria.