Warning: Do not proceed unless you want to be smacked into submission by a load of Fifty Shades Darker spoilers!
Alongside Mr. Christian Grey himself of course, one of the most elusive and mysterious characters to make an appearance in #FiftyShadesDarker is Leila, played to perfection by 29-year-old Australian actress Bella Heathcote. Catch a glimpse of her in the trailer below:
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Without a doubt, Heathcote deserves a huge pat on the back for her deranged performance in the Valentine's Day blockbuster. However, for those who aren't familiar with the original books, Leila's background may be slightly unclear.
Below, backtrack to the previous book and movie and remind yourself who Christian Grey's former ex-girlfriend really is, and what it was that really made her point that gun at Anastasia in Fifty Shades Darker.
Leila Williams is a former submissive of Christian's. According to the books, their sexual relationship happened approximately two years before Ana collided with Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey. Like all of his submissives, she is also brunette — because of this, actress Bella Heathcote had to dye her blonde hair brown so that the film could stay true to the narrative.
After conducting a full-on BDSM relationship with Grey and his Red Room, Leila leaves him after meeting her husband. Back then, she is described in the books as a "mischievous" and very "lively" personality but then, four months before E.L. James's events began, her lover Geoff is tragically killed in a car accident. As a result, she has a mental breakdown, which manifests itself into an unhealthy obsession with Christian and a yearning to cause harm to herself.
In Fifty Shades of Grey, we hear of her during a trip Christian takes to Georgia with Ana — it becomes apparent that a troubled young woman has broken into Escala and slit her wrists in front of Mrs. Jones, Christian Grey's housekeeper and cook. After the horrific incident, Leila is rushed to hospital and treated but manages to check herself out before her former dominant can talk to her or help her.
We hear nothing of her for the remainder of the first book but then, she surfaces again in Fifty Shades Darker. In a jealous rage and a bid to find out who Christian's new woman is, she stalks Anastasia, coming up to her outside her work like a menacing ghost.
Leila also apparently breaks into her home and watches her sleep, waking up Ana who casts the vision aside as a mere bad nightmare. Late in the movie version, she also slashes the tyres of Steele's Audi A3, covering it with white paint as a sign of anger. The most memorable moment however, is when Leila rocks up at Ana's apartment near Pike Place Market and confronts her with a gun — here's the scene:
Following this encounter, Leila is taken to a psychiatric ward after Christian calls Dr. Flynn, who fails to make an appearance in the movie adaptation.
So, with you up to speed on who Grey's volatile, ex-submissive is, prepare to see much more of her in the next installment of the erotic drama, Fifty Shades Freed. If the books are anything to go by, she will re-emerge and confront Ana once again in full knowledge that it will mean that Christian comes running.
As for Bella herself, she's admitted that she absolutely loves playing Leila. Speaking to Cosmopolitan, she's said:
"I loved playing Leila, taking on [a character] who's completely unhinged. I saw her as a girl who’s grief-stricken and she just doesn’t have the tools to cope. Grief and heartbreak, it makes you do some pretty crazy things."
The actress also revealed how she managed to get into that unhinged mindset that we see in the movie, surprising us all by saying:
"I’m just a psycho myself. [Laughs.] I don’t know ... it was a weird experience. It was weird — OK, maybe alarming — how much common ground I found with her in a way."
Did I miss anything out about Leila's character? Let me know in the comments below!