It's not often fan backlash campaigns work. But considering insane Fifty Shades fanatics prompted a need for beefed up security, maybe it's not all that shocking Charlie Hunnam officially won't be playing Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie.
Universal announced Hunnam (with the studio's consent) dropped out of the Fifty Shades movie at the last minute because his "immersive TV schedule... is not allowing him time to adequately prepare for the role of Christian Grey," according to the studio's statement. (Hunnam plays Jackson 'Jax' Teller on FX's wildly popular Sons of Anarchy.)
Some are questioning Universal's excuse for Hunnam's departure. "His abs not flat enough?" asked Buzzfeed's Adam Vary. "Hmmm... Not sure I'm buying what they're selling," said TV Line's Michael Ausiello. "I would take this with a grain of salt," writes Deadline's Mike Flemming Jr., adding "all of this scheduling stuff had already been figured out before he made the deal to star with Dakota Johnson."
The move to replace him was definitely made recently. Universal added extra security around their star for his Sons of Anarchy premiere this week, fearing Fifty Shades fan upset with his casting may do something drastic. And as Variety explains, Hunnam's late departure puts producers in a real bind:
Universal and Focus will have to move fast to find a replacement as production was set to start at the end of the month.
This setback may cause a delay in production given how long it took to settle on Hunnam for the key Grey role.
So the long-awaited adaptation, slated for release next August, may get pushed back as the studio looks for a new leading man.
Fans were outraged when Universal announced Hunnam was slated to play Christian Grey instead of, say, Ian Somerhalder or Matt Bomer. A Change.org petition to have him removed from the project earned over 80,000 signatures. Hunnam acknowledged the angered reaction from Fifty Shades fans against him playing the millionaire main character in an interview earlier this week. "There are so many fans of that book and I know that on the surface, I'm probably not what everybody imagined," the actor told Entertainment Weekly. "Because reading is so personal and people bring a character to life in their imagination, they feel ownership over that character."
But these things always pop up when crazed fans disagree with a casting decision. (You'll remember the great Baffleck backlash of 2013.) It's rare they actually get what they want.