Charlie Hunnam: 'Fifty Shades of Grey' gets its Christian Grey
In the last couple of weeks, the world has been rocked by several revelations that have left earthlings – depending on their particular expectations, prejudices, and mental health – infuriated, terrified, shocked, thrilled. Am I referring to the reported chemical attacks in Syria and the Obama administration's determination that the U.S. should get involved in that country's bloody civil war? Syrius Chemical Civil War? Is Obama endorsing a new video game? Is it in 3D?
Nope, that's not what I'm talking about. Nor am I referring to the ivory trade and the relentless poaching of African elephants, which will quite possibly lead to their extinction in the very, very near future. Or to the nearly 1,000 manatees and dolphins that have met with slow and agonizing deaths in Florida's grossly polluted waterways. Or to Edward Snowden and the NSA's international spying scandal. Who cares about that sort of stuff?
This article is about What Truly Matters. Following the announcement that Ben Affleck will play Batman in Superman vs. Batman – leading to gnashing of teeth, self-flagellation, and anti-Ben Affleck online petitions – now comes the news that 33-year-old Charlie Hunnam is slated to play Christian Grey in the Gone with the Wind of the 2010s: E.L. James' Romance and Bondage novel Fifty Shades of Grey, with reportedly 70 million copies sold worldwide.
Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey?
So, Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey? Hunnam, the guy who starred in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, a costly box office disappointment in North America? Charlie Hunnam? The guy who had one of the leads in the British Queer As Folk, legs up in the air and all? (See also: “Charlie Hunnam 'Queer As Folk' : Steamy 'Male Bonding.'”)
Is the world ready? What sort of effect will the casting of Hunnam in Fifty Shades of Grey have on the planet's melting polar ice caps and rising ocean levels? Don't be too surprised if fans of James' novel begin creating more petitions – Say No to Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey! He's Not Kinky Enough! — to be signed by tens (hundreds?) of thousands of concerned individuals in the coming weeks. After all, the planet must be saved!
Remember: one Change.org petition to unmask Ben Affleck's Batman has collected 90,434 signatures since its inception about a couple of weeks ago. For comparison's sake, a 2012 petition to end the slaughter of African elephants and rhinos fueled by the illegal Chinese market totaled 27,848 signatures. And a Moveon.org petition against U.S. air strikes in Syria currently has 45,442 signatures. It's always inspiring to see Humankind joining forces to face Major Threats.
Charlie Hunnam's 'Fifty Shades of Grey' leading lady: Dakota Johnson
Charlie Hunnam's Fifty Shades of Grey erotic – ahem, romantic – interest, Anastasia Steele, will be played by 23-year-old fashion model and actress Dakota Johnson, among whose credits are supporting roles in Channing Tatum / Jonah Hill's 21 Jump Street, David Fincher's The Social Network, and Chris Nelson's Gay Dude.
Dakota Johnson also happens to be the daughter of Best Actress Academy Award nominee Melanie Griffith (Working Girl) and former TV star Don Johnson (Miami Vice), and the granddaughter (on her mother's side) of Tippi Hedren, the star of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and Marnie. Former Pedro Almodóvar collaborator Antonio Banderas is Johnson's stepfather. (Now, imagine if Almodóvar had been hired to direct Fifty Shades of Grey: Duel in the Sun meets New Moon meets Last Tango in Paris meets Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!. Anyhow, Sam Taylor-Johnson will be the one sitting in Fifty Shades of Grey's director's chair.)
Charlie Hunnam movies
Besides Pacific Rim – which grossed only a little over $100 million in the U.S. and Canada, but a remarkable $304 million internationally – among Charlie Hunnam's handful of movies are Stefan Ruzowitzky's Deadfall, opposite Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde; Matthew Chapman's The Ledge, with Terrence Howard and Liv Tyler; Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men, starring Clive Owen; and Douglas McGrath's Nicholas Nickleby, with Hunnam in the title role. Hunnam also had a small role in Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain, starring Jude Law and Nicole Kidman.
But if his movie appearances have been relatively rare, Charlie Hunnam has kept himself busy on television. In addition to Queer As Folk, Hunnam has had a long-running hit with Sons of Anarchy, and had recurring roles in Undeclared and Young Americans.
According to the IMDb, Fifty Shades of Grey is one of three Charlie Hunnam movies in pre-production. The other two, both scheduled for 2015 releases, are Guillermo del Toro's horror thriller Crimson Peak, co-starring Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska, and John Hillcoat's crime drama Triple Nine, possibly to also feature Cate Blanchett and Christoph Waltz.
Robert Pattinson 'Fifty Shades of Grey': The Christian Grey that might have been
Regarding the casting of Sons of Anarchy and Pacific Rim's Charlie Hunnam as kinky literary hero Christian Grey, I should add that writer Bret Eaton Ellis (Lindsay Lohan / James Deen's The Canyons) has tweeted that Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James' first choice for the role was Robert Pattinson, on whose Twilight Saga character, Edward Cullen, Christian Grey is based. (Image: Robert Pattinson.)
Now, Karl Marx once said that “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” With that in mind, I'd say it's a good thing that Pattinson has found himself busy with other projects like David Michôd's The Rover, Werner Herzog's Queen of the Desert, Jesper Ganslandt's Mission: Blacklist, David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, and his classy Dior commercial. (See also: “Robert Pattinson 'Mission: Blacklist' New Director.”)
Christian Grey: Matt Bomer, Ian Somerhalder had never been contenders
Besides offering the Robert Pattinson Fifty Shades of Grey connection, Ellis also tweeted that neither White Collar's Matt Bomer nor Lost and The Vampire Diaries' Ian Somerhalder was ever in consideration for the part. Curiously, Bomer's sexual orientation became an issue – could a gay man play Christian Grey? Yes? No? – for those too naive (or too stupid) to know when they're being baited. Man of Steel's Henry Cavill was another rumored possibility to play the male lead in Fifty Shades of Grey.
Note: A Change.org petition demanding the casting of Matt Bomer as Christian Grey and Alexis Bledel as Anastasia Steele has in a couple of days garnered 25,298 signatures. Once again, it's great to see People Fighting for Important Causes. For comparison's sake: A Change.org petition asking that Olympic Athletes “take a stand against Russia's brutal anti-gay laws” has garnered 34,851 signatures after about six weeks.
Anyhow, Robert Pattinson or no, Matt Bomer or no, the likable and capable Charlie Hunnam will surely do just fine as Christian Grey. And let's not forget that numerous fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight novels were outraged when Pattinson was selected to play the lovestruck vampire Edward Cullen. And we know what's happened since. (Meyer herself had initially wanted Henry Cavill, who, unlike Edward Cullen, kept maturing with the passing of time. Robert Pattinson, 21 at the time, was deemed the right age to play the teenage-looking centenarian.)
'Fifty Shades of Grey' release date
Fifty Shades of Grey is scheduled to hit theaters on August 1, 2014. For the time being, the cast of the film consists of Charlie Hunnam (like Robert Pattinson, English-born) and Dakota Johnson (like Twilight's Kristen Stewart, U.S.-born).
As mentioned in the previous post, Sam Taylor-Johnson (formerly known as Sam Taylor-Wood) is slated to direct Fifty Shades of Grey. Taylor-Johnson's sole feature film credit is the 2009 John Lennon semi-biopic Nowhere Boy, starring her future husband, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (just Aaron Johnson at the time). The Fifty Shades of Grey screenplay is by Kelly Marcel, whose screenwriting credits consist of the sci-fier / adventure television series Terra Nova and the upcoming feature Saving Mr. Banks, directed by The Blind Side's John Lee Hancock, and starring Tom Hanks (as Walt Disney), Emma Thompson, and Colin Farrell.
Photo of Fifty Shades of Grey' Christian Grey-to-be Charlie Hunnam, shirtless in Pacific Rim: Warner Bros.