Actor Charlie Hunnam, star of FX's "Sons Of Anarchy," has dropped out of the high-profile role of Christian Grey in the upcoming "Fifty Shades of Grey.'
(Photo: Jon Kopaloff, FilmMagic)
The search has begun for the new actor with the cheekbones, chops and the bravery to step into the role of Christian Grey in the film adaptation of E. L. James' racy romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
Cable star Charlie Hunnam (FX's Sons of Anarchy) is not that guy, as the bombshell weekend announcement of his departure from the project made clear.
Jiff Sneider, Deal Central columnist for the industry website TheWrap.com, believes that rethinking the casting will benefit Fifty Shades, which is due Aug. 1, 2014.
'If Charlie Hunnam had any reluctance, then it would show in the performance. And it would have been the fans who would have really suffered," says Sneider. "Better to do it now than to wait until production started."
But who to fill the key starring slot alongside Dakota Johnson's Anastasia Steele before the film goes into production in November? Don't hold your breath for a big- name star such as Ryan Gosling, Henry Cavil or Chris Pine, whose names have been put forth by fans.
"If you are a star, there's really not enough to gain here to take your clothes off in front of the camera," says Sneider. "This is a star-making role. You need someone who wants to be a star."
The popular contenders promoted by fans include:
• Matt Bomer. The sexy White Collar star is being put forth on a Change.org petition, which now has more than 87,000 signatures.
But Bomer has never expressed an interest in the part.
"Bomer's campaign has been fan-driven. He has not been actively seeking the role," says Sneider. "And he also has a busy TV schedule."
• Ian Somerhalder.The star of CW's The Vampire Diaries has been another fan favorite who continues to top Christian Grey fan polls.
"People still vocalize about wanting to see him in the lead," says Sean O'Connell, a blogger for the movie ticket site Fandango.com. "The Vampire Diaries is such a hot television show and he just fits the picture of who people want in that part with that dark, mysterious and very handsome face."
• Stephen Amell.The star of CW's Arrow already said during a Facebook Q&A earlier this year that he met with the Shades filmmakers to discuss the part. He's got the looks and the abs.
"And it fits the pattern of what the filmmakers are looking for: stars with a small-screen following," says O'Connell.
• Robert Pattinson. OK, a long shot. Still, reports surfaced that Pattinson was James' first choice for the part. There was buzz and there is a clear audience connection between Twilight and Fifty Shades.
"It would break the Internet. Completely. With positive and negative reaction," says O'Connell.
But even Twilight author Stephenie Meyer told USA TODAY earlier this year that "I just really cannot see him doing that."
No matter how the casting goes, there will be both thrilled and disgruntled fans.
"There will be some people who will have a different image in their heads. That's part and parcel of the casting job for a high-profile project in the Internet age," says Richard Hicks, president of the Casting Society of America. "The solution is to make such a good movie that it erases the idea that there was ever someone possibly better. And that's often what happens."