‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Replacing Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey

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The actor was unable to resolve scheduling conflicts, according to Universal

Charlie Hunnam has dropped out of the erotic thriller, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Universal Pictures and Focus Features unexpectedly announced on Saturday.

“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,” Universal and Focus said in a joint statement.

See video: ‘SNL’ Spoofs ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Screen Tests Featuring Kristen Stewart, Seth Rogen and More

The loss of Hunnam poses a serious problem for one of Universal’s most high profile projects, based on the hit erotic series of novels, which had been expected to lead to potential franchise for the studio’s specialty arm. Hunnam is a lead character on “Sons of Anarchy,” the FX drama.

Dakota Johnson has been cast as Anastasia, while Hunnam was to play kinky billionaire Christian Grey.

As TheWrap reported earlier, Jennifer Ehle has been offered the role of Carla, a strong Southern woman who is used to being pursued by men, seeing as how she’s on her fourth husband.

Also read: Inside Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson’s ’50 Shades of Grey’ Casting: Chemistry Tests to the Dotted Line

Sam Taylor-Johnson is directing the film from a script by Kelly Marcel, who adapted E L James’ erotic novel. Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti are producing the movie, which hits theaters Aug. 1, 2014.