Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim, Sons of Anarchy) was only attached to director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey for about a month before suddenly dropping out. At the time, the reason for his departure was blamed on scheduling difficulties and lack of time for proper preparation for the role. Now, it looks as if Hunnam had substantial conflicts of interest with the film’s creative team, ones strong enough to turn down a $125,000 payday. Hunnam also submitted his own script notes on the Kelly Marcel adaptation, which were well-received but led to further disagreements when Hunnam began grasping for further script control. While scheduling issues were certainly part of the problem, they’re only going to get worse now as Universal Pictures and Focus Pictures are still in search of a male lead with a planned November 1st start date rapidly approaching. Hit the jump for more.
THR has quite the extensive write-up on Hunnam’s departure from Fifty Shades of Grey and the behind-the-scenes turmoil that ensued. While it’s important to note that Dakota Johnson (Ben and Kate) is still attached to play Anastasia Steele, the search is on for billionaire and S&M fetishist, Christian Grey. Frontrunners for the role are Jamie Dornan (Once Upon a Time) and Christian Cooke (Magic City), with Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) also in the mix. Whoever lands the part will have to prove that they can handle the frenzied fandom surrounding the property, as Hunnam experienced a fan reaction so intense that he had to hire bodyguards and extra security for his Sons of Anarchy appearances, going so far as to cancel two of them.
In addition to the upswell in his popularity, Hunnam had creative differences with the team that led to his departure. When he sought further script approval after submitting his notes, his request was denied. As Hunnam was mulling over his decision to decamp, Universal brought in screenwriter Patrick Marber (Notes on a Scandal) to do a polish, but to no avail. Even though the role of Grey remains uncast and production may be delayed a week, the studio remains confident on its August 1, 2014 release date.