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Before Sam Taylor-Johnson was tapped to direct the hottly anticipated movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, she helmed John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy in which she cast her now-husband Aaron Taylor Johnson in the titular role.

Sam Taylor-Johnson On Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Sam knew little about Aaron prior to his audition to play The Beatles founder. But, he happened to have what she was looking – not only the ability to sing and play guitar, but the ability to “embody the spirit and intensity” of the budding musician.

“I knew I need to have somebody who could carry the weight of the icon and at the same time, be able to play guitar, sing, speak like Lennon with a Liverpudlian accent, and then, most importantly, embody the spirit and intensity of Lennon,” the director told uInterview while promoting the film. “I saw a lot of people, and no one really came to the audition with that ability to carry such a role.”

Sam added, “I knew that Aaron had been on the set of Kick-Ass playing Kick Ass. So, when he arrived I didn’t hold out high expectations. I thought, ‘He hasn’t had time to research this and I don’t know what he’s going to bring to this. But, he came in the room as Lennon and that was pretty impressive for a first casting.”

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As for the romance between the director and the actor, that came after filming on the picture wrapped. “[The relationship] didn’t evolve during the filming. I was at work. He was at work. It was a work environment and we don’t really mix the two,” she explained. “So that happened when we finished filming.”

Now, the Taylor-Johnsons, who’ve been married since 2012, have two children together – Romy Hero and Wilda Rae. While Sam is in the spotlight these days with the release of Fifty Shades of Grey over Valentine’s Day weekend, Aaron will soon be making his Marvel superhero debut, playing Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver in the forthcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron.