Entertainment & Arts

Charlie Hunnam, Dakota Johnson and the ‘Fifty Shades’ of reactions

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ casting
Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson will star in the film adaptation of the erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
(Left: Michael Loccisano; right: Frederic J. Brown / Getty Images)

When casting news for the film adaptation of E.L. James’ erotic romance novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” broke over the long weekend, reactions were muddled with expressions running from “Finally!” to “Seriously?!”

The announcements came Monday via James’ Twitter account.

Focus Features cast “Sons of Anarchy” and “Pacific Rim” star Charlie Hunnam, 33, as mysterious billionaire Christian Grey, who shows a penchant for S&M and dominant-submissive sex practices, and courts college grad Anastasia Steele. The sure-to-be raunchy film first announced that it cast Dakota Johnson, 23, daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, as Ana. You may remember her from an undie-clad scene in “The Social Network” and beyond-raunchy sex scenes with Jason Segel in “The Five-Year Engagement.” This film -- and its likely sequels -- may earn itself an NC-17 rating, given the trilogy’s graphic content.

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Regardless, Johnson’s mom seems to be pretty proud that her baby girl clinched the role.

“My beautiful child Dakota has been chosen to play Anna Steele in 50 Shades!!!’ Griffith, 56, tweeted on Monday.

But fans of the trilogy have been less supportive and have been up in arms -- a la Christian’s red room of pain -- complaining about James and the producers’ choices in leads.

The backlash even prompted James to return to Twitter to address angry fans.


“To all the supporters, lovers and haters - thank you so much for the passion that you have for this project. You all rock. All of you,” she wrote shortly after the announcements.

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Producers Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca also felt the need to clarify why they made their choices

“There is a lot that goes into casting that isn’t just looks. Talent, availability, their desire to do it, chemistry with other actor, etc.,” wrote Brunetti, adding, “So if your favorite wasn’t cast, then it is most likely due to something on that list. Keep that in mind while hating and keep perspective.”

“Auditions were stunning, incredible chemistry!” wrote De Luca.

Apparently, Hunnam reportedly wouldn’t sign on to the role until he knew who would play Ana, according to the Wrap. (How very control-freak Christian of him.)

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Each of them also had to audition for his or her role and reportedly had to do a “chemistry read,” which probably meant they had to do a scene on video together so that producers and Universal Pictures execs could see that they had enough “heat” for the film, the Wrap said.


Several young actresses reportedly passed on the role because of the frontal nudity required. (“Like Crazy’s” Felicity Jones reportedly dropped out because of it.) “Divergent’s” Shailene Woodley, Alicia Vikander, Imogen Poots and Elizabeth Olsen were also considered for the role, and “Harry Potter’s” Emma Watson in March put the kibosh on rumors that she would participate in the film.

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For a while, it was believed “White Collar’s” Matt Bomer or “The Vampire Diaries’” Ian Somerhalder were front-runners for Christian. (Somerhalder would have been an interesting choice because James’ series started off as “Twilight” fan fiction and many see parallel adult arcs to Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling young-adult books.)

However, Bomer and Somerhalder are said to have never been seriously considered for the role. But Ryan Gosling’s, “Tron’s” Garrett Hedlund’s and British TV star Christian Cooke’s names were all tossed in the hat, the Hollywood Reporter said.

Hunnam wasn’t really the front-runner for the career-defining role, either, according to author and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis, who said another British actor, “Twilight” heartthrob Robert Pattinson, was James’ first choice. Yep, we’re definitely seeing that “Twilight” parallel now.

“Talked to E.L. James at a party over the summer: her first choice for Christian was Rob Pattinson,” he tweeted. “She and I were at Rob Pattinson’s house when she admitted that Rob was first choice for Christian. When E.L. James asked me who I thought should be Christian I said ‘James Deen, of course,’ and then she shoved me.”

Since the announcement, a petition on surfaced asking that the film be recast with Bomer and “Mad Men’s” Alexis Bledel in the lead roles. (Fan posters featuring their faces have even cropped up.)

Hunnam, who starred in Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” this summer, at least has people rooting for him.


“First of all, I think he’s going to do fantastic because he’s a great actor and a handsome guy,” his “Pacific Rim” costar Charlie Day told E! “And when you’re seeing a movie about sex, you want a handsome guy. On top of that, he’s a good actor, so I think he’s going to do a great job.”

And “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter is convinced Hunnam will do well.

“haven’t read the books, all i know is that charlie will bring gravitas,” Sutter said during a Twitter Q&A.

Sam Taylor-Johnson will direct the film based on screenwriter Kelly Marcel’s script. James reportedly had a significant say in casting, and production is supposed to begin this fall so that the film can hit theaters in August, the Wrap said.

So who would your choices be for Christian and Ana? And how do you feel about the film’s casting as it stands?


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