Did Dakota Johnson Get Naked or Use a Body Double in Fifty Shades of Grey?

The steamy 2015 romance ‘Fifty Shades of Grey‘ is littered with an abundance of sex scenes featuring the protagonist, Anastasia “Ana” Steele, in a deluge of erotic situations. Dakota Johnson’s protagonist character had to often bare her skin in the film’s more demanding and raunchier sequences. The BDSM-themed narrative focuses on the intense relationship between a sub and a dom. As such, nudity and sexual exploration are part and parcel of the storyline’s excitement. For an authentic portrayal of the film’s central draw, Johnson had to dig deep to find the physical and emotional vulnerability, sparking an inquiry into the lengths she traveled to bring the intimate scenes to life!

Dakota Johnson Wanted to Maintain Authenticity in Her Nude Scenes

Dakota Johnson committed to her part as Ana during the sex scenes in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ by baring most of herself. The actor was interested in portraying the intimate and erotic elements as genuinely as she could. However, it was still quite a painful process, given she would be vulnerable physically during the BDSM sequences. “I was going to be naked, so I wanted to look good. I did a lot of working out and had more waxing than any woman should have”, she said in an interview with the Daily Star UK. Often, to make the situation on set before filming less awkward and anxious, she would take shots to calm her nerves.

While the film’s narrative demanded the actor reveal everything, she understandably wished to preserve some sense of modesty. “I had these sort of strapless thongs that had glue on them. It’s not glue, but it’s sticky,” she told Marie Claire. The strapless thong stayed on her throughout the shoot, with the aid of a superglue, which lasted the entirety of the filming of the intimate scenes. She would wear two of them to reassure her about being covered, albeit barely. Bizarrely, this caused an issue for cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, who revealed that the patch covered Johnson’s pubic area, removing all signs of pubic hair. During post-production, pubic hair was added to Johnson’s body digitally.

A large chunk of Johnson’s sex scenes were in the presence of co-star Jamie Dornan, who plays Christian Grey. The two needed a strong understanding and connection off-screen for the depiction of the intense BDSM play between them. They both stated that the scenes in the Red Room, where Grey employs his masochistic domination over women, were the most challenging. For Dornan, the lack of clothing on Johnson and the added weight of being cruel and punishing toward her was awkward and difficult. To protect the intimacy and to preserve some sense of modesty, Johnson asked for a closed set during the Red Room shoots – only the director, Dornan, and Johnson were present during those sequences.

A Double was Cast for Some of Dakota Johnson’s Scenes

During the filming of an erotic scene, cinematographer Seamus McGarvey found it challenging to procure a close-up shot of Dakota Johnson’s naked butt due to a tattoo on her backside. Given the innocence and virginal status of Ana, it made no sense for the character to have a tattoo on her backside. As such, the cinematographer had to cast a butt double for the actor. In an interview with The New York Times, McGarvey said, “We did have a butt double for Dakota. I had the pleasure of casting a non-tattooed bottom.” He also added that working on the film was one of the most surreal projects he had undertaken due to the ways in which they had to work around the nudity on display. While the S&M aspect of the film is its central crux, even some of the whipping scenes were digitally generated in post-production.

So, although ‘Fifty Shades of Grey may be dripping in its sexual imagery and lustful scenes of BDSM glory, the reality of Dakota Johnson’s shoot was quite different than the pleasure experienced by her character through the narrative. While the actor embraced nudity and sexuality with an open mind, there was still the need for a body double during a certain scene, which was driven by a technical problem revolving around a tattoo placement. For the most part, though, Johnson remained committed to the film’s formidable demands to preserve the narrative’s authenticity.

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