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'Fifty Shades of Grey' seeks 'breathtaking' actor

AuthorsArts and CultureLiteratureMichael De Luca

Which actor can possibly live up to the mental image readers have of Christian Trevelyan Grey, the billionaire bondage aficionado in “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the hugely successful erotic novel that is soon to become a movie?

In the book by British author E.L. James, Grey is described as “not merely good looking — he is the epitome of male beauty, breathtaking.” There are probably male models who could come close to that standard, but what about men who can actually act? Is there anyone gorgeous enough?

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Charlie Hunnam had been slated for the role, a choice that provoked protest from “Grey” fans. Best known as the young stud from FX’s biker gang series “Sons of Anarchy,” Hunnam is a reasonably handsome guy, but not exactly “breathtaking.” His blond hair and close-set eyes give him the look of a surfer dude at San Onofre, or maybe a hunky Amish farmer. A mysterious billionaire with a dark soul and a perfect face? Not so much.

Hunnam dropped out of the project last month citing “family stuff” as a reason. Besides that “stuff,” maybe the actor decided he did not need the grief of trying to live up to impossible expectations.

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Now every time the movie’s producer, Michael De Luca, shows up in public he is being peppered with questions about who will replace Hunnam. De Luca’s public statements suggest he is looking for someone with a face even less well-known than Hunnam’s modestly familiar mug. He told the Times’ Amy Kaufman, “It’s like casting Superman or James Bond. A fresh face is appropriate.”

With production in limbo and a release date pegged for next August, he needs to find that fresh face fast — a guy eager for a role that could make his career or humiliate him for life. Who will that brave — and breathtaking — man be?

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