2 sources now say Hunnam got cold feet on #50Shades movie, TV schedule said to have had nothing to do with his exit.
— Matthew Belloni (@THRMattBelloni) October 12, 2013
Was Charlie Hunnam‘s surprise exit from “Fifty Shades of Grey” a result of performance anxiety?
It sure seems like it, with no one in Hollywood buying the statement that Hunnam’s “immersive TV schedule” didn’t allow him “time to adequately prepare for the role of Christian Grey.”
First of all, what kind of preparation does this role really require, aside from some careful manscaping and maybe a wild weekend or two of S&M bondage sessions? After all, it’s not like this is Matthew McConaughey starving himself for “Dallas Buyers Club” or Daniel Day-Lewis spending months developing Abraham Lincoln’s voice and mannerisms for Spielberg’s “Lincoln.”
Second, surely Hunnam and his representatives at CAA worked out his “Sons of Anarchy” schedule with the “Fifty Shades of Grey” shoot. An individual familiar with Hunnam’s schedule told TheWrap that Hunnam is slated to finish shooting “SOA” on Oct. 21, giving him three weeks to prepare for “Fifty Shades,” which seems like enough time to get himself in the proper headspace.
Hunnam even told reporters that after reading with would-be co-star Dakota Johnson, he knew he “definitely wanted to do it. There’s just a tangible chemistry between us.” Was he genuinely excited to seduce Johnson on camera or was that just lip service?
Perhaps Hunnam’s abrupt exit from “Fifty Shades of Grey” has nothing to do at all with the media scrutiny that comes along with a high-profile role identifiable with the legion of fans. It’s possible that Hunnam is in the top-secret mix for another tentpole movie that offers him more time to prepare or, quite frankly, is simply a role he would prefer to play more than “Fifty Shades.”
Oddly enough, Hunnam and the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie come off looking like both winners and losers in this casting debacle.
Yes, Hunnam looks bad for bailing on a commitment and turning his back on a fan base that was coming around on his casting despite an absurd Change.org petition that would settle for nothing less than Matt Bomer as Christian Grey.
But if had severe reservations about the role, isn’t it better that he drop out now?
A representative for Hunnam’s agency, CAA, did not respond to multiple requests for comment, referring TheWrap to the carefully-worded statement released Saturday by Universal and Focus on behalf of the filmmakers and Hunnam.
Meanwhile, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” is now more than tainted than it already was, if one thinks Hunnam’s exit signals a lack of confidence in the project and those making it. Perhaps Comcast should’ve waited for cameras to start rolling before firing Universal co-chair Adam Fogelson and well-respected Focus chief James Schamus.
That said, Hunnam’s exit may be the best possible thing to happen for both parties. Not only has Hunnam “dodged a bullet,” in the eyes of many industry watchers, but the quality of the movie itself stands to benefit.
If Hunnam was reluctant to play Grey, that hesitation would certainly manifest itself in his performance. Now Universal and Focus, director Sam Taylor-Johnson, author E L James and producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti can refocus their collective efforts on casting someone who actually wants the challenge of playing Grey — and all the baggage that comes with the part.
It’s better Hunnam realizes now that his heart wasn’t in the role of Christian Grey rather than a month into production, which would’ve caused an even bigger problem. Instead, he had the guts to speak up before it was too late.
There’s certainly no shortage of young and handsome hunks in Hollywood who would do almost anything to play Christian Grey. The “Fifty Shades” filmmakers have already started going down the list, hoping to keep the production’s November start date on track. Of course, it will all depend on the availability of the actor chosen to replace Hunnam.
Will that mystery man need more than the three weeks Hunnam would’ve had to prepare for the role of Christian? Only time will tell… and that’s the one thing Universal is running out of if the studio wants to stick to its Aug. 1, 2014 release date for “Fifty Shades.” If the start date is pushed back, perhaps the kinky literary sensation becomes a holiday season release.
By Jeff Sneider