British actor Charlie Hunnam has dropped out of the movie adaptation of the bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, weeks after he was given a lead role.
He blamed his busy schedule after Universal Pictures and Focus Features announced on Saturday that the actor, who was to play high-flying businessman Christian Grey, will depart from the line-up.
The studio said it was a mutual decision because Hunnam’s preparation time was limited by his commitment to FX television series Sons of Anarchy.
Dakota Johnson will remain in the role of Anastasia Steele, a university student that Grey seduces in E L James’ book that has so far sold 70 million copies worldwide.
When Hunnam’s casting was announced in September, he said he had initially turned down the role. Many fans vented online that the Pacific Rim actor was ill suited to play the bondage-loving billionaire. Producers Dana Brunetti and Michael de Luca took to Twitter to defend their choice, stating that the leads had good on-screen chemistry.
Hunnam’s representatives were not available to comment on Saturday.