After months of rumors, speculation, fan outcries and more, Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam were chosen to star in Focus/Universal's adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. They would be taking on the sought-after roles of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in the erotic thriller, and with Sam Taylor-Johnson on board to direct it looked like the film was finally moving forward with filming to begin next month. But now they'll have to start the search for a new lead actor as Hunnam has dropped out, supposedly because of his schedule on FX's Sons of Anarchy. Here is the statement issued by Universal...
“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.”
It's possible this is just a "saving face" maneuver on the part of the studio, and perhaps by Hunnam as well. As Deadline notes, all of the scheduling issues were ironed out before he signed on, so that shouldn't be a problem now. It's possible he realized how a film like this could have done as much damage to his career as good, and decided it was better to be safe than sorry.
At this point, Johnson and the recently added Jennifer Ehle are still ready to go, and producers will be scrambling to find a replacement. Let the speculation begin anew. Fifty Shades of Grey is set to open August 1st 2014.