Joe Wright For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey'? 'Anna Karenina' Director Stands As Frontrunner For Job

The "Fifty Shades of Grey" movie just got a bit more legitimate. As first reported by THR and later confirmed by Variety, Joe Wright is the top choice to direct the upcoming adaptation of E L James' S&M love story.

Focus Features, the studio producing the film along with its parent company Universal, did not confirm Wright's involvement, but the connection makes sense: Wright has made four films with Focus, including 2007 Best Picture nominee "Atonement" and last year's "Anna Karenina." Both of those films -- along with "Pride and Prejudice," another Wright-Focus collaboration -- starred Keira Knightley in lead roles. There is no connection, though, between "Fifty Shades of Grey" protagonist Anastasia Steele and the 28-year-old British actress.

According to Variety, Wright wasn't the only big name on the "Fifty Shades of Grey" director wish list. Bill Condon ("Twilight: Breaking Dawn"), Patty Jenkins ("Monster") and Bennett Miller ("Moneyball") were all apparently mentioned as possibilities, as was Gus Van Sant, who previously shot test footage for "Fifty Shades" with Alex Pettyfer playing the male lead, Christian Grey. The most outlandish rumor regarding the director hunt for "Fifty Shades of Grey" goes back to June of 2012, when Deadline.com noted that Angelina Jolie had a "conversation or two" about making the film. THR called those chats "informal," however, and nothing ever materialized between Jolie and the studio.

UPDATE, May 10: Deadline.com's Mike Fleming, who originally posited that Jolie could get the job, is "call[ing] bullsh-t" on the Wright report. We'll see.

The original story continues below.

Should Wright actually take the "Fifty Shades of Grey" job, the film's casting will then heat up in earnest. Thus far, a bevy of leading actresses have been discussed for the part of Anastasia, but no one has been hired. Emma Watson was a popular choice for the role, but the actress quickly shot that idea down herself on Twitter in March.

Whoever takes the part should be comfortable with the idea of being naked onscreen. James' novel includes many descriptions of graphic sex and screenwriter Kelly Marcel said she was writing the script with an NC-17 rating in mind.

For more on Wright and "Fifty Shades of Grey," head over to THR.

Casting 'Fifty Shades Of Grey'