“Fifty Shades of Grey” has found its new leading man in Jamie Dornan, according to several reports.
Universal Studios isn’t commenting, but industry trades like The Hollywood Reporter and Variety cite sources who say the 31-year-old actor has been tapped to replace Charlie Hunnam, the “Sons of Anarchy” actor who was originally cast as Christian Grey and dropped out in mid-October.
Dornan’s name may not be that familiar to American audiences, but his face might be. The star, who was born in Northern Ireland, got his start as a model for brands like Dior, Armani and Calvin Klein and posed alongside top names like Kate Moss.
Before he landed acting roles on U.S. shows like ABC’s “Once Upon A Time,” on which he played the Huntsman/Sheriff Graham, Dornan was known mainly to U.S. celebrity watchers as the guy dating fellow Brit Keira Knightley.
In the UK, he stars in the BBC’s psychological thriller “The Fall.”
While Dornan had been considered the frontrunner following Hunnam’s exit, his wasn’t the only name said to be in consideration. The actor reportedly had competition from British actor Christian Cooke, “The Borgias'” Francois Arnaud and “True Blood” star Alexander Skarsgard.
Hunnam, meanwhile, is looking forward to family time.
“I am doing good (after dropping ‘Fifty Shades’),” the 33-year-old recently told E! News. “Just trying to stay focused and stay positive and keep trying to do a good job at work and be with my family.”
Hunnam was faced with an onslaught of attention, both positive and negative, following his casting announcement, sparking speculation that he exited the part because of the overwhelming amount of interest. However, studio Universal said in a statement that Hunnam’s TV schedule didn’t give him time to adequately prepare to play Christian Grey.
Production was expected to begin on the film, adapted from E.L. James’ erotic best-seller and to be directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, in early November. The studio has already announced a scheduled release date of August 1, 2014.
Although the project has weathered this casting challenge, its leading lady hasn’t gone anywhere. Dakota Johnson, the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson who’s starred in the TV series “Ben and Kate,” is still on board to play protagonist Anastasia Steele.