On Saturday, the Internet lit up with the breathless all-caps news that Charlie Hunnam would no longer be playing the dashing if psychologically damaged billionaire Christian Grey in the big-screen adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. Some of best-selling author E L James’ readers were ecstatic, as it meant their dream casting for fan favorites like Matt Bomer or Ian Somerhalder might have life yet. But it was a gut punch to Universal/Focus, which is scrambling to recast a beloved role and still keep to their mid-November production start.
In the official studio statement, blame was placed on Hunnam’s “immersive TV schedule, which is not allowing him time to adequately prepare.” This sounds dubious though, as his FX drama Sons of Anarchy was always scheduled to wrap production on its sixth season on Oct. 22. One source close to the actor says Hunnam had serious reservations about the script, a possibility made more interesting by the recent news that the studio had brought on Notes on a Scandal writer (and friend to director Sam Taylor-Johnson) Patrick Marbe to give the Fifty Shades script a polish. We’re also hearing that Hunnam just second-guessed his willingness to bear the weight of such a popular franchise and accept the tidal wave of fame it would surely bring. (His reps didn’t return requests for comment.)
For now, the November production date stands, so an announcement must be imminent. Until then, the wait for fans is sweet torture.