Who Is Dakota Johnson & Why Has She Landed The '50 Shades' Role Of Ana Steele?

The swirling rumours have been confirmed: Dakota Johnson will take the lead female role in the movie adaptation of EL James' erotic trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey. The 23-year old Social Network acress will join Pacific Rim actor Charlie Hunnam in bringing to life the bondage whips-and-chains-filled story.

Dakota Johnson
Dakota Johnson Has Been Picked For The 50 Shades Role.

Many actresses publically distanced themselves from the role, which will inevitably involve plenty of unhinged sex scenes, including Mila Kunis and Emma Watson, who probably weren't even offered the role, but wanted to make sure everyone knew it wasn't their kind of character. The books have been extremely successful, placing EL James at the top of Forbes richest author list of the last year. However, there has been plenty of criticism too, where James' writing, storyline, characters and just about everything else have come under fire as the book was branded "mommy porn."

Charlie Hunnam
Charlie Hunnam Will Play Kinky Billionaire, Christian Grey.

The movie's supposedly set for a summer 2014 release date but the team, led by Nowhere Boy director Sam Taylor-Johnson and James herself, will be working within extremely tight time constraints if they want to still meet their target release. The two lead roles seemed to take eons to tie down, with Charlie Hunnam being only one of the later rumours that also included Ian Somerhalder, Armie Hammer and Garrett Hedlund.

EL James
Author EL James Wants To Make Sure Her Books' Adaptation Goes Smoothly.

Now Hunnam and Johnson have been signed up, we're intrigued. Their looks, especially in The Social Network and Pacific Rim, may not be what 50 Shades fans had been imagining but with EL James occasionally vague descriptions, the casting team could have picked out any token hot couple and gotten away with it. Let Hollywood work its magic.

Charlie Hunnam 50 Shades
Charlie Hunnam Was Chosen By EL James To Play Her Book's Character.

So what ought we know about Ms. Johnson? What qualifies the relative acting newcomer for a role that will be physically and dramatically challenging and is sure to propel the young star to unbridled fame and scrutiny? Well, apart from The Social Network - where Johnson acted opposite Justin Timberlake in her most recognisable role to date - she has starred in 21 Jump Street, Beastly and The Five Year Engagement, but these were all minor roles in comparison to the gold mine Johnson's just landed.

Charlie Hunnam 50 Shades Christian Grey
Hunnam & Johnson's Chemistry Is Described As "Incredible."

She's the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, both actors, who were therefore they were bound to be more accepting of the challenging role she's just taken on. Unphased by the prospects of her daughter effectively becoming a porn star and pretending to have on screen kinky sex for three movies, Griffith is outspoken in her excitement for Dakota's new job. "My beautiful child Dakota has been chosen to play Anna Steele in 50 Shades. Look out world! Here she comes!!! #proudmama," she tweeted on Monday.

Sam Taylor-Johnson
There's A Lot Of Pressure Of Sam Taylor-Johnson To Please 50 Shades' Millions Of Fans.

In screen tests and auditions, the chemistry between Charlie and Dakota was described as "incredible" by producer Michael de Luca who tweeted "Auditions were stunning, incredible chemistry." The author, who is known to have had a considerable input in choosing her characters' actors, described Johnson as "lovely" and Hunnam as "gorgeous and talented."

Dakota Johnson 50 Shades
Dakota's Great Anastasia Material..If That's A Good Thing.

Looks wise, with her trademark flowing, blonde hair, Dakota doesn't immediately fit the Anastasia mould of long, brown hair cast by James. However, the pale skin, blue eyes and slim build are spot on. A little hair dye and POOF! You have an Ana Steele. She, like many other women, would fit EL James' slightly vague description of Steele. However, one feature that will seemingly be ignored is Ana's "upturned nose" which Johnson clearly doesn't have. It's not like anyone will be focussing on her nose anyway...

Dakota Johnson Anastasia Steele
Don't Recognise Her? You're About To Be Seeing A Whole Lot More Of Her...

Furthermore, Johnson is at just the right stage of fame to play a character as crucial as Ana without any hangover from previous major performances. She's about to make it big and it looks like 50 Shades will be the push, however career-defining, she needs to fling herself on Hollywood's radar. Director Taylor-Johnson is certainly well-placed to handle the film in a way that doesn't make our toes curl with embarrassment but if she gets it wrong, her young actors could become the laughing stock of a phenomenal flop.


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