Mark Wahlberg: I was desperate to produce Fifty Shades Of Grey with Brad Pitt in the lead

The actor nearly fired his agent after losing a bidding war over film rights

Actor-turned-producer Mark Wahlberg has revealed he tried and failed to win the film rights for E.L James' Fifty Shades Of Grey.

The Oscar-nominated star, known for his role in The Departed, admitted that he almost fired his agent Ari Emanuel when they lost the bidding war to Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti.

Wahlberg, 42, did not want to play the part of business magnate Christian Grey himself but he did want to produce it and cast Brad Pitt in the lead.

Speaking on The Hollywood Reporter's Producers Roundtable, The Fighter actor responded to a joke by De Luca that Christian Grey "looks a lot like Mark Wahlberg", with: "No, sounds like Brad Pitt to me".

Wahlberg expressed frustration at narrowly missing out on the opportunity to produce the movie.

"We were aware of the book from very early on, and we were close to securing the rights, and then we get into this bidding war," he said.

"We were so close to having it. That was one of the few times I was going to fire Ari."

Wahlberg shifted his talents to producing after repeatedly feeling snubbed in favour of Brad Pitt. "I wanted to produce because I was never going to get the script first. I had to wait for Brad Pitt to pass," he told the Roundtable.

Fifty Shades Of Grey, starring Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastacia Steele, is due for release in early 2015,

The storyline follows the destructive, sexually-charged relationship between the wealthy Grey and a college student intrigued by his charisma. 

To date, the Fifty Shades trilogy has sold over 70 million copies worldwide, making it one of the fastest-selling series of all time.