Casting is beginning to heat up on the set of Universal’s erotic sequel Fifty Shades Darker, with news emerging that Australian actress Bella Heathcote has been cast in the role of Leila, one of Christian Grey’s former flames that looks set to put his relationship with Dakota Johnson’s Anastasia Steele to the sword.
Word of Heathcote’s casting arrives by way of Deadline, confirming that the star will join a cast that currently boasts Jamie Dornan as the manipulative billionaire, Johnson and, as we learned recently, Kim Basinger as BDSM expert Elena Lincoln. Behind the lens, James Foley is attached to direct both next year’s sequel and 2018’s trilogy-capper, Fifty Shades Freed, with screenwriter Niall Leonard by his side to adapt both installments of E.L. James’ worldwide record-breaker.
Shouldering a particular brand of expectation, Universal’s will no doubt be hoping that Foley’s Fifty Shades Darker can recapture lightning in a bottle – lightning that garnered more than $570 million worldwide – in order to ensure the original hit doesn’t go down as a flash in the pan. Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti and Marcus Viscidi will all produce.
Universal’s Fifty Shades franchise will be absent from this year’s coveted Valentine’s Day window, but make no mistake, with Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed slated for February 10, 2017 and February 9, 2018, respectively, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele will soon be making up for lost time.
Heathcote, meanwhile, can be seen battling the undead in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies this weekend, and you can hear what the Aussie actress had to share about bringing a new spin to Jane Austin’s seminal novel in our exclusive interview.