Newry husband of 50 Shades of Grey author whips a sequel into shape
The Newry-born husband of EL James, author of global phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey, is to write the screenplay for the second book in his wife's erotic trilogy.
Niall Leonard has been revealed as the pen behind the next celluloid instalment of the best-selling books following reports that screenwriter Kelly Marcel quit the franchise.
The cinematic adaptation of the books, which spawned the crudely-named new genre "mummy porn", will also continue without director Sam Taylor-Johnson, understood to have left after clashes with James during the filming of the first book.
Rumours had been suggesting that James was intent on writing the next script herself but it was revealed yesterday she's leaving the task to her husband.
"Niall is an outstanding writer in his own right, with multiple established credits, and we are lucky to have him," producer Michael De Luca said.
Leonard has always denied being the inspiration behind the brooding anti-hero - a troubled businessman with a kinky, bondage fetish who falls for inexperienced young woman he yearns to make a submissive to his dominant. The Co Down man insisted his wife's characterisation of Christian Trevelyan Grey was strictly "fantasy".
"It's a fantasy, it's certainly not based on me. In fact perhaps being married to me helped her to fantasise about someone more interesting," he is quoted as saying.
Described in the novels as "the epitome of male beauty", the billionaire's persona was brought to life on screen by Co Down actor Jamie Dornan.
Leonard was the screenwriter behind hit TV shows Hornblower, Silent Witness, Wire in the Blood and Ballykissangel.
He was also part of the team of writers behind Northern Ireland comedy Give My Head Peace and is the author of the thriller Crusher novels.