Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam will no longer play Christian Grey in the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey. According to a statement from the studios behind the film, “The filmmakers of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY 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.”
The season 6 finale of FX’s Sons of Anarchy began shooting Oct. 11, one day before Universal Pictures and Focus Features made the announcement. Fifty Shades of Grey is due to hit theaters Aug. 1, 2014.
Fifty Shades of Grey author E L James responded briefly on Twitter: “I wish Charlie all the best. x,” she wrote. (It’s unclear whether her tweet 17 minutes before that one was related: “Okay girls and boys – hold on to your hats – it’s about to get serious…”)
Hunnam recently spoke to EW about the film for the Sons of Anarchy cover story now on newsstands: “There are so many fans of that book and I know that on the surface, I’m probably not what everybody imagined,” the actor admitted. “Because reading is so personal and people bring a character to life in their imagination, they feel ownership over that character. That’s daunting if I allowed myself to think about it too much. I’m taking it very seriously and intend to explore the nature of who this character is, what motivates him — and also dress up nice and look good in those suits.”
This penultimate season of FX’s tense biker drama has yet to deliver an episode that wasn’t super-sized. The Oct. 15 episode will again run 90 minutes.