As the "Fifty Shades of Grey" chatter revs up heading into its opening weekend, you basically have to go out of your way if you want to avoid reviews, think-pieces, panels and features about the much-anticipated film. One prominent discussion to emerge in the lead-up to the release concerns whether the BDSM saga is a tale of abuse or empowerment.
Dakota Johnson, for one, defended the story in a new interview with Digital Spy. The 25-year-old actress portrays the virginal Anastasia Steele, who's seduced by the fetishistic billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).
"I know that a lot of people, before seeing the movie, were thinking that it's promoting abuse and violence, but I think it's actually doing the opposite," Johnson said. "It was really important for [director Sam Taylor-Johnson] and I to maintain the level of integrity in Anastasia throughout the entire film because I really don't think that she's a weak, submissive victim. I think she's a strong woman who is fearlessly exploring herself emotionally and sexually."
Taylor-Johnson made similar remarks at Thursday's premiere in London, where protesters brandished signs with such comments as "Christian Grey is a rapist."
“It’s very important to understand that we did empower this character and that everything she does in her sexual exploration is done willingly and consensually,” the director told The Independent. "The moment a line is crossed, there’s a very powerful 'no,' so I think actually we're delivering a very different message to what those people are expecting. They should wait and see. I wanted to give her a strength, to take her right through to the end and give her the final word. [Being a woman] helped when I shot the more intimate scenes, as Dakota and I had built up a powerful trust."
Watch more of Johnson's interview: