By LIA WANG ’16
Charlie Hunnam (“Pacific Rim,” “Sons of Anarchy”) was slated to play Christian Grey, suave entrepreneur and BDSM enthusiast, in the upcoming 2014 film production of E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey.” But just weeks after his casting was announced, Hunnam dropped out of the production.
“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 Motion Pictures stated.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” started as alternate universe Twilight fanfiction, before being published in 2011 with slightly modified plot points and renamed characters. It was released amidst mixed to negative reviews – some found it to be intriguing, even thrilling, while most dubbed it badly written “mommy porn.” Because of its dominant/submissive themes as well as its lack of sophisticated prose, Fifty Shades has garnered significant criticism. Since its release, two sequels, “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed,” have been published. The trilogy was completed in 2012, but it hasn’t left the public eye just yet.
Although Universal cited Hunnam’s work schedule as the source of conflict, rumors are flying about various other reasons why the actor dropped the role. According to Hollywood Reporter, Hunnam was to be paid “about $125,000 for the film,” a meager amount considering the infamy of the book, anticipation for the film and contract rates within the film industry in general. Robert Pattinson was paid $2 million for the first “Twilight” film.
Another possible point of conflict arose from Hunnam’s own creative ideas for the film. Hunnam is a writer himself, having penned a screenplay called “Vlad,” based on Vlad the Impaler’s life story, and sold it to Summit Entertainment with Brad Pitt’s production studio, Plan B Studios, co-producing. Hunnam reportedly wrote his own detailed notes on the “Fifty Shades” script and sought approval for his ideas, which were well received but nonetheless denied. Ensuing disagreements between Hunnam and the creative team, including director Sam Taylor-Wood, possibly caused Hunnam to eventually drop out out of the project.
When Hunnam was cast, fan reactions were varied. Fans of the book created a petition on Change.org for Matt Bomer and Alexis Bledel to be cast in the main roles, which now has over 80,000 signatures. On the other half of the spectrum, many fans of Hunnam and his performance in “Pacific Rim” opposed the decision as well, expressing concern about typecasting and the stigma that would accompany involvement in “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Either way, fans on both sides were joyous when Universal announced Hunnam’s departure from the film. Following his role as Raleigh Becket in the critically and commercially successful “Pacific Rim,” Hunnam has garnered significant attention as well as a loyal fan following. Many users of social media blogging site Tumblr caps-locked their happiness on their blogs, relieved that Hunnam would not be involved in such an infamous and criticized production. One user cleverly tagged onto the news a .GIF of the character Stacker Pentecost from “Pacific Rim” saying, “Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!”