‘Fifty Shades of Grey': Jamie Dornan, Billy Magnussen First to Test for Christian Grey

'Fifty Shades of Grey': Jamie Dornan, Billy Magnussen First to Test for Christian Grey

Dakota Johnson is reading with up-and-coming heartthrobs after Charlie Hunnam dropped out last week

Irish heartthrob Jamie Dornan (BBC's “The Fall,” above left) and Tony-nominated actor Billy Magnussen (“Damsels in Distress,” above right) are the first two actors to test for the role of Christian Grey with Dakota Johnson, TheWrap has learned.

Australian actor Luke Bracey (above, center), who recently wrapped Max Landis’ directorial debut “Me Him Her,” is also a contender.

Universal and Focus are in a hurry to replace Charlie Hunnam, who dropped out of the project last week, citing a lack of preparation time due to his TV schedule for “Sons of Anarchy.” The FX series wraps production on Oct. 21, while “Fifty Shades” doesn't head into production until Nov. 1, though it's unclear whether Christian Grey will be needed on set at the beginning of the shoot. With Jennifer Ehle cast as Anastasia Steele's mother, it's possible those mother-daughter scenes could be filmed first.

Also Read: The WrapOff: Is Charlie Hunnam's Exit an Early Sign of Trouble for ‘Fifty Shades of Grey'?

In the week since Hunnam's departure, multiple individuals close to “Fifty Shades” told TheWrap that Hunnam was never really gung-ho about the project and that his manager, Cynthia Pett, ushered him into the risky role, which had less upside for an established star. Not only does Hunnam lead a hit cable series, but “Pacific Rim” grossed $407 million worldwide. Universal had initially chased Pett's other client, Garrett Hedlund, and when that choice didn't pan out, she began pushing Hunnam on the studio.

Hunnam is also a writer whose vampire movie “Vlad” is in development at Summit and Plan B Entertainment, the production company owned by Pett-repped Brad Pitt. Insiders say Hunnam approached the studio with notes on Kelly Marcel's screenplay, which she adapted from EL James’ bestselling novel. It's unclear whether Universal ordered a draft that addressed Hunnam's now-irrelevant concerns, though Patrick Marber was recently hired to polish the screenplay.

Also Read: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey': Dakota Johnson Is Strapped In, Hunnam or No Hunnam

Both Dornan and Magnussen are relative unknowns, which may work in their favor, as the public may be more willing to accept them in the role of the kinky billionaire, who millions of readers all imagine differently. The imagination is a powerful thing, and an audience with no pre-conceived notions of the actor playing Grey could tailor their own fantasizes to his relatively mysterious cinematic identity.

The 31 year-old Dornan, whose sole major movie credit is Sofia Coppola's divisive 2006 drama “Marie Antoinette,” can play both sides of good and evil. He played Sheriff Graham (aka the Huntsman) on ABC's fairy tale series “Once Upon a Time,” as well as a twisted serial killer in the acclaimed BBC series “The Fall,” which is currently available to watch on Netflix.

At 28 years old, Magnussen is the same age as Christian Grey. He recently replaced Jake Gyllenhaal as Rapunzel's Prince in Disney's “Into the Woods,” and will soon begin filming a lead role in the HBO series “The Money.”

Sam Taylor-Johnson is directing “Fifty Shades of Grey” for Universal and Focus. Mike De Luca and Dana Brunetti are producing the movie, which is scheduled to hit theaters on Aug. 1, 2014 … for now.

  • 50shadesfan

    All the reports suggest they didnt read with Dakota because they aren't worried about chemistry and are just looking to secure the parts. So which is it? This is so dumb. Neither of these guys are Christian and Dakota certainly is no Ana. Both of these guys are too short, Jamie is too scrawny and creepy looking, Billy isnt even cute, and they're all a downgrade from Charlie who wasn't even CG to me to begin with! This is not looking good at all.

  • Kathy

    I love Charlie Hunnam, so am sad to see him drop out. I WISH THEY WOULD GIVE HENRY CAVILL A LOT FOR THE PART. HE HAS THOSE SMOLDERING, GOOD LOOKS.

  • Charlotte DiLondon

    Did you see what they were paying Charlie Hannam? They had better up their price, if they want the best man for the job. They also should keep in mind, if a woman doesn't drool over the guys physic and looks, it isn't going to work.

  • Carol

    Will the producers ever get it. None of these even resemble Christian Grey. Class and blue/grey eyes. Whey can't they get one of the ones the fans like? They at least all resemble our fantasy of Christian. I fear this movie will be a complete dud. She, Johnson, doesn't look innocent or beautiful. Duh! I am not even looking forward to this movie I was so excited about. What is it budget? Screw it up and you stand to loose lots more money. Do it right and the fans will rush out to get the blue-ray and see the movie more than once or twice. I have read the books three times. The last time trying to picture the chosen cast in my head….not! I think I will just stick to the books vision and leave it at that.

  • vn_102

    Where are Francois Arnaud, Scott Eastwood, Christian Cooke that's been on the list couple days ago? Why only 3 of them now?

  • chicky

    If they don't up the looks on these actors I will never see this movie! Who are these people??? What a huge let down. I was looking forward to the movie.

  • Josiele

    I want ryan gosling but i know he said he doesnt want the part and i Will prefer Christian cooke or scott eastwood