Bad news for those anticipating the Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation – your Christian Grey is faceless once again.407_1charlie_hunnam_3

Charlie Hunnam has come to his senses regrettably decided to drop out of playing the coveted role in the forthcoming film version of EL James’ erotic novel, leaving the role wide open for another actor to inhabit the role.

Turns out that Hunnam’s commitments to TV show Sons of Anarchy were, according to Universal in a statement, “immersive” and “not allowing him time to adequately prepare for the role of Christian Grey.” The actor, who also appeared in this summer’s blockbuster Pacific Rim, has been part of the main cast since the show’s inception in 2008, and if rumours about its forthcoming season being its last are to be true then Hunnam needs to be front and centre for the show’s final episodes.

Remaining cast as Anastasia Steele is Dakota Johnson while recently joining as Steele’s mother is Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty). The film is to be directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy), from a script by Kelly Marcel (the forthcoming Saving Mr. Banks), and is still on track for a release next August. Film is based on James’ 2011 novel of the same name, which was followed by two sequels Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The trilogy has sold over 70 million copies worldwide in both e-book and print formats, making it one of the biggest-selling literary series for quite some time.

You can’t blame Hunnam for wanting out of such a huge part (no pun intended) that would have ultimately defined his later career. All his past work including Pacific Rim and Sons of Anarchy have shown him to be a charismatic and likable young actor, someone who – like most of us imagine ourselves to be – prefers to receive the right amount of recognition but remain firmly out of the spotlight. Had he kept the role of Christian Grey, his fame and popularity would have reached uncomfortable levels that the likes of Robert Pattinson et al have been subject to in the past. We cannot speak for Mr. Hunnam, of course, but we have an inkling that the inevitable large attention would have made him far more uncomfortable than any of us could have realised. In that sense, it’s probably for the best that Hunnam back out now before the going gets tough, for his own sake.

That leaves the position wide open once again for any other actor to step up and play Christian Grey. The Ian Somerhalder camp must definitely have their ears pricked up at this news, but will the filmmakers see it the same way? Or is someone else on their minds for the role? A casting decision should be announced fairly soon, since production is set to begin at the beginning of November! Place your bets on Hunnam’s replacement now!