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.
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.
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.