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Charlie Hunnam is exiting Fifty Shades of Grey.
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"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," Universal Pictures said in a statement.
The Sons of Anarchy actor was set to star as Christian Grey alongside Dakota Johnson in the adaptation of E L James' best-selling book. Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) is directing the film.
Sons of Anarchy 's production was to end Oct. 21. The production on Fifty Shades was set to start in Vancouver the first of November.
Two sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Hunnam, 33, was overwhelmed with the attention he received from being cast in the movie and got cold feet about carrying such a high-profile project. Universal was forced to hire bodyguards for the actor at a recent Sons of Anarchy premiere, where questions about Fifty Shades dominated the red carpet.
The sources caution that Hunnam had no reservations about the role of Christian Grey, just the media and fan frenzy that came along with it, especially as he was transitioning from Sons to Fifty Shades so quickly.
Hunnam's exit leaves Universal and producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti in a very tough position. The studio has set an Aug 1, 2014, release for the film, and any delays in the production schedule could imperil that date.