Ever since E.L. James’ erotic tome “Fifty Shades of Grey” hit the bookshelves to begin making housewives across the world blush, a film adaptation has been making waves across Hollywood. Director Sam Taylor Wood’s exhaustive search for the lead characters lead her through a seemingly endless search through the hottest young actors and actresses to find the leads. Young, relatively unknown, actors Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy,” “Pacific Rim”) and Dakota Johnson (“Ben and Kate”) eventually landed the roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele respectively. Fans immediately voiced their disappointment with the role across the web. Producers made it clear they would be going ahead with the casting … until Charlie Hunnam suddenly dropped out, claiming the shooting schedule would interfere too much with his show on FX. The search was on again for a new Christian Grey.
Well, a new actor has been named and it is Jamie Dornan. Most notable for his role as Sherriff Graham on the first season of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” Dornan’s name was curiously not among the list of actors many suspected might get the job. Theo James (“Golden Boy”), Christian Cooke (“Magic City”), and Scott Eastwood (“Chicago Fire”) emerged as the studio’s leading choices. Fans second last ditch campaign to get Ian Somerhalder (“Lost” “Vampire Diaries”) and Matt Bomer (“Chuck” “White Collar”) signed on to the role has again been ignored.
For those who do not know, the release of the novel version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” had a curious background. It stated as a fan fiction Internet story for the hit “Twilight Saga,” before a friend of author E.L. James convinced her to try publishing it. The book immediately shot to the top of Bestseller lists across the world as Hollywood studio execs scrambled to obtain the rights. The story follows college senior Anastasia Steele as she meets handsome wealthy entrepreneur Christian Grey and is ultimately thrust into the world of very rough BDSM. The first book surpassed the record previously set by “Harry Potter” as the fastest selling paperback of all time. Two more sequels have already been released, “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed,” and seem destined for the screen as well. The graphic sexual practices are extremely scandalous and only time will tell to see how far the MPAA will allow the film version is willing to go for an R rating, as this is the type of action that is typically stamped with an NC-17 rating.
Born in Northern Ireland, actor Jamie Dornan unquestionably has the leading man look down for Christian Grey with his stubble chin and blonde hair. It will be of great interest to see if he can stomach the onslaught of media attention that is sure to come his way. Rumor has it that former lead Charlie Hunnam quit production not because of “Sons of Anarchy” but because he got cold feet after seeing the amount of public scrutiny targeted at him. Several big name actors – Emma Watson (“Harry Potter”), Robert Pattinson (“Twilight”) and Ryan Gosling (“The Notebook”, “Gangster Squad”) – denied roles in the film because they were afraid of what the erotic project might do to their fan bases. Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are not exactly household names, but when the film adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey” is released, it will be hard not to see their faces everywhere.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” is quite a difficult project to take on because of its subject matter. It’s the rare project that can be a star-destroyer just as easily as it can be a star-maker. It is safe to say that the film will, without question, make millions of dollars. However, for a project already marked with numerous setbacks in pre-production, one has to wonder what other problems might appear as it heads into production. Look for it to be released on August 1st, 2014.