• Thu, Aug 16 2012

E.L. James Wants Shailene Woodley To Play Anastasia Steele; Fortunately, She Already Has Experience Playing Weak-Willed Virgins

Shailene Woodley Anastasia Steele E.L. James The Secret Life of the American Teenager Amy JuergensAnother day, another potential actress to take on the lip-biting intensity of Anastasia Steele in the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. But this candidate has some extra legitimacy—apparently she’s on author E.L. James‘ shortlist. Yes, according to The Hollywood Reporter, James would love to see Shailene Woodley play virginal college student Anastasia, who gets swept up in a BDSM love affair with emotionally vacant billionaire Christian Grey.

Shailene is one of those actresses I wouldn’t have immediately considered, but now that I think about it, she could do a really good job with the role. Not because of the accolades she’s received (rightfully so) for her role in The Descendants, but because she cut her teeth on really shitty female characters. We first met Shailene as the idiotic Amy Juergens on ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager—perhaps one of the worst protagonists on TV in 2008, since she managed to get knocked up without realizing she’d actually had sex. I’ll never forget this scene from the Secret Life pilot:

Amy: I wasn’t even sure it was sex, okay?

Lauren: Why not?

Amy: I didn’t exactly realize what was happening, and then, it was like over in two seconds. And it wasn’t fun, and it certainly wasn’t like what you see in the movies, all romantic and stuff.

Lauren: Maybe it wasn’t sex, maybe you had like a really bad dream and you just think you had sex.

What’s funny is that Brenda Hampton wrote an exchange like this to scare teenagers into thinking sex is awful so they won’t try it; and E.L. James goes for the opposite, trying to make sex all alluring. The thing is, both end up writing completely unrealistic scenes. (Sorry, ladies, but unless Christian Grey is some sort of superhero, he can’t come and then be ready to slap on another condom two minutes later.) But back to the original point: Amy is just as stupid about sex as Anastasia. Neither has any idea of the mechanics; they probably have never masturbated so know nothing about their own capacity for enjoying it; and they sort of just passively let it happen and then are confused about it later. If you need someone who knows how to play a dumb, inexperienced, helpless virgin… you’ve kinda got the perfect girl.

Despite reportedly being so enamored of Shailene, James hasn’t thrown any support her way on her Twitter or blog. But the producers are probably making her stay quiet since every casting rumor sets Fifty Shades fans off. Would you watch Shailene as Ana?

Photo: Ian Wilson/WENN.com

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