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Northern Ireland is sexy again thanks to Fifty Shades and Jamie Dornan

By Lesley Houston

Published 18/05/2015

Jamie Dornan and co-star Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades of Grey
Jamie Dornan and co-star Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades of Grey

The Fifty Shades 'effect' has made Northern Ireland sexy again, the husband of the books' author has claimed.

Newry writer Niall Leonard said the hype around the books and the involvement of heart-throb Jamie Dornan in the film was helping to improve our image.

Leonard has been tasked with bringing the second in the trilogy of blockbusters written by his wife EL James to the screen.

"Northern Ireland is sexy again. People understand our accents. We've had our teeth fixed," he said in an interview with the Sunday Times.

He stresses, however, that as sexy as Dornan's portrayal of anti-hero Christian Grey is, it's no reflection of any inspiration Leonard provided for his wife.

"Our first Christmas together I bought her a tin opener," he revealed.

Leonard is now preparing to write the screenplay of sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, in a feat he admits is "a real challenge" and "scary".

The process of bringing the first in the Fifty Shades of Gray trilogy to screen has not been easy for anyone involved. Disagreements with its creation were much publicised and it was no secret director Sam Taylor-Johnson wanted a different ending.

"A lot of people want the book word for word on the screen while Hollywood wants a movie," he said.

"When you get 20 people in a room all shouting at the same time, it's a disaster.

"You need a person saying, 'this is the way we're going to do it'.

"Not an easy job," he reiterated, but writing for screen is not a task he is unfamiliar with.

He got his first writing break on Jimmy Nail's police series Spender, before spreading his talents to Monarch of the Glen, Ballykissangel and BBC Northern Ireland's Give My Head Peace.

Leonard has also written a trilogy of his own, but with a much-less salacious theme than the sado-masochism which pervades wife Erica's erotic fiction.

His series Crusher, Incinerator and Shredder - which is of the young adult genre - is a tale of a 17-year-old who investigates the murder of his father.

His role as a television screen writer for The Bill, Silent Witness and Wire in the Blood laid much of the foundations for the books, considering the plot twists and forensic detail he had been accustomed to injecting into the TV dramas.

Leonard had even planned to publish a historical crime novel, which was nearly finished, but recognises that it would be lost amid the landslide of Fifty Shades' notoriety.

"It's hard to be a novelist when you live with EL James," he said.

"Anything I do will look like a gnat bite," he quipped.

Belfast Telegraph

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