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article imageCharlie Hunnam exits Fifty Shades of Grey, new lead sought

By Mathew Wace Peck     Oct 13, 2013 in Entertainment
Charlie Hunnam has withdrawn from “Fifty Shades of Grey,” it has emerged, forcing producers to look for a new male lead for the high-profile film.
It was announced in early September that Hunnam, 33, had won the coveted role of Christian Grey, and would appear alongside Dakota Johnson, who is playing Anastasia Steele.
The reason for Hunnam’s withdrawal from the project has been put down to the star’s television work commitments.
As reported by People, in a statement issued jointly by Universal Pictures and Focus Features, it was stated, “The filmmakers […] and Charlie Hunnam have agreed to find another male lead, given Hunnam’s immersive TV schedule which is not allowing him time to adequately prepare for the role of Christian Grey.”
Fifty Shades of Grey the movie is based on E. L. James’s phenomenal best-selling novel of the same name. The director is Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) and the screenplay has been written by Kelly Marcel (Terra Nova). Casting the leads had been a long, drawn-out process, with many actors names bandied about over the previous months.
Among those mentioned in connection with the role that eventually went to Hunnam, were Matt Bomer (White Collar), Ryan Gosling (How to Catch a Monster), Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe) and Taylor-Johnson’s own actor husband, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass).
It was James herself who initially revealed the decision, through her Twitter account; the author tweeted that Johnson was “lovely” and Hunnam “gorgeous and talented.” James has taken to Twitter again, tweeting, “I wish Charlie all the best.”
Back at the time of the original casting announcements, the news was met by surprise, and even anger, from many fans of the characters in the book and its two sequels — Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed — forcing James and the filmmakers to defend the choice of lead actors.
Hunnam first came to prominence as a teenager in 1999, when he played one of the leads — a 14-year-old gay lad — in Channel 4’s seminal drama series, Queer as Folk, which was created by the former Doctor Who showrunner and the person responsible for Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Wizards vs Aliens, Russell T. Davies.
The British actor moved to the US some years ago, and is now well known for playing Jackson “Jax” Teller in Kurt Sutter’s biker drama series, Sons of Anarchy.
Earlier this year, Hunnam played a lead in Guillermo Del Torro-directed blockbuster movie, Pacific Rim.
Fifty Shades of Grey was published in 2011, since when the trilogy has taken the literary world by storm. According to the BBC, in 2012 alone, James earned approximately $95m (£61.5m) from them. The books tell of the sexually-charged relationship between the billionaire Christian Grey and a college student, Anastasia Steele.
Originally expected to start filming in November, for an August 2014 release, it’s currently unclear whether Hunnam’s exit will affect the movie’s production schedule.
More about charlie hunnam, Fifty Shades of Grey, EL James, Doctor Who, Queer as Folk
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