Reports are emerging regarding the real reasons that caused Charlie Hunnam to walk away from the lead in role in Fifty Shades of Grey, the big-screen adaption of E.L. James’ best selling book. THR is reporting that Hunnam’s conflicts peaked when he gave his own very detailed script notes on Kelly Marcel’s adaptation. Many may not know, but Hunnam is also a writer. He penned the gothic horror screenplay Vlad for Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Summit Entertainment.
Although his suggestions were well received, he was denied further script approval. Hunnam began to clash with the creative team, even clashing with director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy). Universal, obviously wanting to resolve the issue, brought in screenwriter Patrick Marber (Notes on a Scandal) to do an edit. Still, after his suggestions and notes were denied, Hunnam high-tailed it out.
Interestingly, Hunnam was to get paid $125,000 for the film. This isn’t exactly a great pay-day for a relatively known-name actor headlining a possible franchise starter. The unimpressive paycheck, the fact that Hunnam faced a public frenzy after being cast (hiring bodyguards and even having to cancel two promotional appearances for Sons of Anarchy), and the lack of creative input, may have all been factored into his decision.
Universal hasn’t had much luck holding down a lead actor for this project. Robert Pattinson never engaged with producers and Garrett Hedlund passed in July because he couldn’t connect with the character.
It’s worth noting that Dakota Johnson is still firmly attached as the female lead.
If production is supposed to start on November 1, it’s not looking good. The date may have to be moved back another week as a new lead is quickly signed up. Even with these casting problems, Universal is still confident they will have the film ready for its August 1, 2014 release date.
Jamie Dornan (Once Upon a Time), Christian Cooke (Magic City), and Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) are the three frontrunners up for the role.