It should not be surprising that Sam Taylor-Johnson, the woman who directed Fifty Shades of Grey, the film revolving around a man in love with BDSM, has a disturbing history of her own. The British director’s father left his family when she was nine, and her mother was a hippie who left the family when her daughter was 15. Taylor-Johnson later joined a group called the Young British Artists, who created exhibits that pushed the envelope of art every way they could.
One artist hung sharks and sheep in formaldehyde; another got revenge on her ex-lover by showing an unmade bed garnished with by underwear, empty liquor bottles and condom wrappers, but Taylor-Wood decided to aim higher, creating a Last Supper with Jesus as a topless woman.
Taylor-Johnson married a powerful art dealer, Jay Joplin, had two children with him, then left him after her first feature film, 2009’s Nowhere Boy, when she was 42. She married the lead actor, who was 19, then had two more children with him.
Taylor-Johnson eventually patched up her relationship with her mother, and said, “My mum has always been quite free-spirited and she has taught me a lot. I think that is probably why I have the sort of mind that I do. So I can’t fault her for it because I think that in a way I have retained that free-spiritedness. I think it was a difficult attribute to grow up with but one that has served me well in life.”
NPR writes that Taylor-Johnson says she sees Fifty Shades of Grey, which outlines a young woman’s adventures toward becoming physically exposed, as a woman’s journey that ends with the male lead vulnerable and emotionally exposed. NPR joyfully concludes, “And the movie Fifty Shades of Grey teases the fundamental idea of who holds power — from the woman who tells the story, to the women readers who enjoy it, and the woman director who put it on the screen.”