One notorious casting that ultimately led to an actor leaving a popular movie occurred just before Fifty Shades of Grey started shooting. The role was supposed to have gone to Triple Frontier actor Charlie Hunnam; however, Hunnam left the project and Jamie Dornan was signed on in his stead.
Since news broke that it could have been Charlie Hunnam who played Christian Grey, there’s been sort of a fascination in terms of the “what if” factor. Ultimately, however, Hunnam still doesn’t regret quitting the role. He said in a recent interview:
I don’t see myself in that role at all because it would have been totally different. I think what acting is, is trying to create a character and you put half of yourself into it, [a] bit more than half. So that’s Jamie Dornan’s character, you know? I haven’t seen them but I’m sure he did an excellent job.
According to Charlie Hunnam, the actor has no interest in watching Fifty Shades of Grey or its two follow-ups, also revealing he really doesn’t “want to have an opinion” on Jamie Dornan’s performance or how the movie turned out during his interview with Newsweek. I don’t really blame him, considering more than a year after the final movie in the franchise came out he’s still getting asked about the decision.
As for why he quit Fifty Shades of Grey, Charlie Hunnam said:
I started to realize that my, my vision of who that guy was, was not everybody else’s vision. You can’t get into a film, let alone three films, totally at odds with the rest of the filmmaking community or the creative community involved in something because it’s just going to be [a] miserable experience... it was better for me just to extract myself from the process, but no regrets.
Previously, Charlie Hunnam has had varying accounts for why he quit Fifty Shades of Grey. This time, he’s saying the character fans love from the books was at odds with how he wanted to play it. He’s also said that he is aware he would be a “lot wealthier” if he had said yes to the gig that eventually went to Jamie Dornan, noting,
Well, I'd be a lot wealthier. I'd be a lot wealthier. I was gonna get paid a fortune. So much.
He’s said before he was just really busy at the time the first movie was going to start filming, revealing he was also doing Crimson Peak and Sons of Anarchy and it all just felt like a lot at the time.
And I was going to shoot that film, wrap that on the Wednesday and the following Monday I was going to start shooting Crimson Peak in Toronto. I just had like ... frankly, something of a nervous breakdown.
So, it sounds as if there were myriad reasons to say no and the money wasn’t enough to say yes. (Although, he really did give up on quite a bit of money.) Interestingly, Charlie Hunnam is known for intense workouts and even being shirtless on both the big and small screen. That's something that Jamie Dornan has come out and really worked on after he wasn't able to get super into shape for the first movie, given the limitations of the timeline after he was cast in Fifty Shades of Grey.
In fact, in some ways Charlie Hunnam may have dodged a bullet. Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson have had to really work to take on different types of roles in the wake of the popular franchise movie. (Although they likely increased their visibility as well.) In addition, while filming Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed seemingly went off without too much of a hitch, filming Fifty Shades of Grey ultimately ended up being a bit of a different situation. Specifically, the director of that movie Sam Taylor-Johnson has come out and said that things were so bad she wouldn’t do it again.
With the benefit of hindsight would I go through it again? Of course I wouldn't. I'd be mad. It was a struggle and there were lots of onset tête-à-têtes, with me trying to bat it into the [right] place. I like everyone -- and I get really confused when they don't like me. I was so confused by E.L. James. I don't understand when I can't navigate a person, when there's no synergy.
She also ultimately left the franchise, leaving leads Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson to navigate the rest of the franchise with new director James Foley. All in all, though, fans of E.L. James’ books seem at least fairly satisfied with how the movies played out on the big screen.
While we have no real gauge for how Charlie Hunnam would have played Christian Grey, it’s still fun to think about how the universe would have been with a totally different actor in the role. Ultimately, it made Jamie Dornan a household name and went on to be a financial success with that actor.
You can catch Charlie Hunnam in the new Netflix movie Triple Frontier, which has already hit the streaming service. Or take a look at what else Netflix has coming this month with our full guide.