The British star won the coveted role of Christian Grey in August and author E.L. James confirmed the news on 2 September, announcing Dakota Johnson would be playing his love interest, Anastasia Steele, in the film.
The Sons of Anarchy star has spent the past month chatting about the role and how excited he was to be playing Grey, but now James and the producers are looking for a new star.
A statement from movie executives at Universal Pictures on Saturday reads: “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 appears James has no hard feelings about Hunnam’s departure – shortly after the statement was released, she tweeted, “I wish Charlie all the best.”
I wish Charlie all the best. x
— E L James (@E_L_James) October 12, 2013
Hunnam initially turned down the role before changing his mind.
He previously said, “I went and read the first book to get a clearer idea of who this character was and felt even more excited about the prospect of bringing him to life… (But) there was a bit of a timing issue where I just wanted to ensure that I was going to have enough time to really do the preparation so I can bring this guy to life and do him justice.”
Director Sam Taylor-Johnson was reportedly set to begin shooting in November.