Charlie Hunnam exits "50 Shades of Grey." (Getty)
The "Sons of Anarchy" star bid adieu to the sexy title role of Christian Grey in the film adaption of the sex-tangled bestselling book by author E.L. James, and fans and critics aren't buying the studio's reason for his controversial exit.
"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 Pictures announced Saturday.
The 33-year-old actor started shooting the Season 6 finale of his hit FX show on Friday, one day before Universal Pictures released their statement. Several "Sons" fans claim he is too of good an actor for the saucy part, while "50" devotees say he was never destined to play the role in the first place.
Glad Charlie Hunnam dropped out of "Fifty Shades Of Cr*p", ahem, "Of Grey". ;) He's far too good an actor to waste his talent on such trash.— Arianna. (@MATRIXFAN) October 13, 2013
YES! I've never wanted Charlie Hunnam to play Christian Grey in 50 shades of grey.
— VanesSATAY (@Chicken_Satay) October 13, 2013
And feverish "50" fans are already sounding off on who should fill Hunnam's shoes, voting for many original favorites for the role.
Best news ever: Charlie Hunnam backed out for the Christian Grey role! Matt Bomer much deserves the role anyway. #FiftyShades
— Anna Molly (@annamolllly) October 13, 2013
So now that Charlie Hunnman has dropped out of 50 Shades of Grey does that mean that Ian Somerholder can play him? — Tiff (@tiffanybearns) October 13, 2013
Charlie Hunnam will no longer be playing the role of Christian Grey, all is well in the world again. Please cast Matt Bomer for 50 Shades!
— mcnialler (@chuchupaula) October 13, 2013
Even author E.L. James chimed in with her own reaction on Twitter.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, sources close to the flick say the star was "overwhelmed with the attention he received from being cast in the movie and got cold feet about carrying such a high-profile project." Their sources claim that Universal even hired Hunnam bodyguard after the media and fan frenzy heated up over his controversial casting.
I wish Charlie all the best. x — E L James (@E_L_James) October 12, 2013
Deadline's Mark Fleming believes that the Hollywood hottie might have put the kibosh on the role after he had time to think about how it would shape his career. "It seems more likely that Hunnam had time to think about it, and decided the role didn’t fit him like that Sons leather jacket he wears. There is a lot of nudity in the film, and calls for the kind of things that might make a veteran actor like Hunnam uncomfortable. Or maybe he watched as the Twilight Saga leads turned into celebrities and didn’t want that."
Both theories are certainly possibilities since Hunnam hasn't been shy about his nerves regarding the project.
He told Entertainment Weekly in this week's cover story, "There are so many fans of that book and I know that on the surface, I’m probably not what everybody imagined," the actor admitted. "Because reading is so personal and people bring a character to life in their imagination, they feel ownership over that character. That’s daunting if I allowed myself to think about it too much. I’m taking it very seriously and intend to explore the nature of who this character is, what motivates him — and also dress up nice and look good in those suits."
Hunnam was right not to underestimate the power of fans. Following his casting announcement in September, more than 87,000 fans started a petition on change.org, many of whom are now virtually patting themselves on the back for potentially influencing his departure, and urged producers to reconsider their decision.
The film's producers and James stood by their man – despite the fact that he only had one major movie credit to his name with this summer's "Pacific Rim" – and tweeted their support for Hunnam at the time.
There is a lot that goes into casting that isn't just looks. Talent, availability, their desire to do it, chemistry with other actor, etc.
— Dana Brunetti (@DanaBrunetti) September 2, 2013
To all the supporters, lovers and haters - thank you so much for the passion that you have for this project. You all rock. All of you. — E L James (@E_L_James) September 2, 2013
Whether or not it was a case of cold feet or simply a career decision, one question remains: Who should play Christian Grey?See OMG Insider discuss replacing Charlie Hunnam in "50 Shades of Grey"
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