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In a shocking turn of events, Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam has dropped out of Universal and Focus Features’ adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Universal cited the actor’s packed television schedule for the move. The filmmakers and the Pacific Rim actor agreed to part ways to find a new star.
“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 full statement reads.
Author E.L. James, who has been heavily involved in the filmmaking process, just sent a tweet that reads “I wish Charlie all the best.” Before that, she sent another cryptic tweet that read, “Okay girls and boys - hold on to your hats - it's about to get serious...”
I wish Charlie all the best. x
— E L James (@E_L_James) October 12, 2013
This is a surprise, as Hunnam was going to play Christian Grey, a role that surely would have risen his profile beyond avid fans of SoA, the critically acclaimed FX series. He did star in Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim this past summer.
Dakota Johnson has already been cast as Anastasia Steele, the young college student who begins a sexual relationship with Christian. Hunnam and Johnson’s casting had sparked a strong negative response from some fans.
Fifty Shades, which will be directed by Sam Taylor-Johnston, is set for release on Aug. 1, 2014 and the studio is hoping to make the two sequel novels James wrote.