NEW YORK -- The casting calls will have to go out again for a male lead for the film adaption of the controversial novel “50 Shades of Grey.”
Over the weekend, “Sons of Anarchy” star Charlie Hunnam announced he was dropping out as the role of Christian, the story’s erotic centerpiece. It wasn't much more than a month ago when producers stirred up fans with the divisive casting choice that passed over much talked about contenders like Ian Somerhalder, Robert Pattinson and Matt Bomer.
When Hunnam’s casting was announced in September, many vented online that the "Pacific Rim" actor was ill-suited to play the seductive billionaire. Producers Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca took to Twitter to defend the choice, maintaining their two leads had good chemistry together.
Now, it appears it's back to the casting couch.
Universal Pictures and Focus Features announced Saturday that Hunnam would depart the project. The studio called it a mutual decision because Hunnam's preparation time was limited by his television schedule for "Sons of Anarchy."
It's an abrupt and embarrassing switch for a high-profile film. Fans of E L James' erotic best-seller are eagerly awaiting the movie adaptation, which will be directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson.
Dakota Johnson remains in the co-starring role of Anastasia Steele.
The Associated Press contributed to this report