Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson to star in the film adaptation of the wildly popular trilogy

By Lynette Rice
September 06, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

One of the year’s most heavily scrutinized film projects finally found the actors who will play its very high-profile (and very sexy) leads. E L James — the author of the wildly successful Fifty Shades trilogy — tweeted on Labor Day that Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) and Dakota Johnson (Ben and Kate) will play Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the big-screen adaptation, set for release Aug. 1, 2014. Speculation about the casting began almost immediately after Focus Features and Universal paid a reported $5 million in March 2012 for the movie rights, and while some actors expressed interest in the project (The Vampire Diaries‘ Ian Somerhalder said he ”absolutely would be up for” playing Christian Grey), others made their disdain for the material known. When Emma Watson’s name was floated as a candidate to play the virginal college student who falls hard for a kinky entrepreneur, the Harry Potter actress nixed the crazy talk via Twitter: ”Who here actually thinks I would do 50 Shades of Grey as a movie? Like really. For real. In real life.” Meanwhile, Armie Hammer scoffed at the idea of starring in a movie based on ”mommy porn.” Though filming has yet to begin, screenwriter Kelly Marcel — who is adapting the book for director Sam Taylor-Johnson — is already reportedly pushing for an NC-17 rating. At least Hunnam and his future costar aren’t apprehensive about showing some skin: Johnson broke out in The Social Network with a steamy morning-after scene opposite Justin Timberlake, and Hunnam has bared almost all on Sons of Anarchy.