The stars of Fifty Shades Darker have dismissed accusations the film glamorises domestic violence, with actress Dakota Johnson claiming critics would actually be inspired by the character she plays.
The follow up to Fifty Shades Of Grey sees Jamie Dornan and Dakota return as billionaire Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, the woman he introduces to his obsession with BDSM.
The films, and the best-selling books by EL James they are based on, were accused of normalising abuse as campaigners protested outside the UK premiere of the film to say the series perpetuates damaging stereotypes.
However, Dakota said she saw her character as the opposite of a victim.
Arriving at the Odeon in Leicester Square, she told the Press Association: “I think if those people were to see the film they would see that Anastasia is an incredibly empowered young woman and everything she does is of her own volition.
“I think she carries herself with such integrity and self-worth that maybe if they watched it they would feel a little bit inspired.”
Jamie added: “The biggest part of S&M is boundaries, having a safe word, that’s what that is. People only do it because they want to, nobody forces you into it.
“Some people like to be tied up and whipped, I don’t but lots of people do in the world, they love it and that is their right. It’s consensual and that should close that argument.”
British author James sparked a global phenomenon when the first book was published in 2011.
It topped bestseller lists around the world, selling more than 125 million copies, while the first film made 571 million US dollars at the global box office and James said the franchise would not have as many fans as it does if it promoted abuse.
She told the Press Association: “I think if it did we wouldn’t have all of these women here. That’s a very important issue and they are hanging it on this.
“I don’t know why they are hanging it on this but if it was any of those things none of these women would be here and be supporting it.”
Director James Foley said he was “baffled” by the criticism, saying: “This is two consensual adults doing exactly what they want to be doing.
“He is incredibly respectful of her and in several of the instances she initiates, so any kind of exploitation of a woman, for Darker at least, is totally ridiculous.”
James is now setting to work to retell Fifty Shades Darker from a male perspective after the success of Grey, which retold the first novel from the opposite point of view.
However, she might not tackle the final book in the trilogy, Fifty Shades Freed.
She said: “I’m going to try to do Darker from Christian’s point of view. I wrote Grey sort of because fans had asked me to and also as a cathartic experience after making the last movie and I didn’t realise it would be this popular and now everyone is saying, ‘can you do the next one and the next one’ so I will definitely have a go at writing Darker but I don’t know about Freed from his POV.”
Fifty Shades Darker is released in UK cinemas on Friday.