Charlie Hunnam: Quitting Fifty Shades of Grey Was "Pretty Heartbreaking"

Entertainment Jul. 21, 2014 AT 9:40AM
Charlie Hunnam on June 1, 2014 Charlie Hunnam says walking away from playing Christian Grey in the movie adaptation of E.L. James' erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey was "pretty heartbreaking" Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Anastasia Steele isn't the only one with a connection to Christian Grey. Though Charlie Hunnam dropped out of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie back in October, he still feels "invested" in both the film and the character now played by hunk Jamie Dornan. Speaking Sunday, July 20, at a Television Critics Association event for Fox, the 34-year-old Sons of Anarchy star said it was "pretty heartbreaking" to walk away from the role.

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"I was just really, really invested and wanted to work with [director] Sam [Taylor-Johnson] and play that character," he said of billionaire Christian Grey, one half of the couple at the center of E.L. James' erotic novel. "I'm really, really curious."

He noted, too, that he "couldn't do it because of the schedule," but that he would be willing to have his audition tape included on the DVD as an extra for fans. (When he quit the project last fall, there was speculation that he did so because he got "cold feet" and had clashed with the creative team over script revisions.) 

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Indeed, Hunnam told Us Weekly back in June that he "would have loved to do the movie" if he didn't already have such a full plate with Sons of Anarchy and Guillermo Del Toro's star-studded new film Crimson Peak.

"It became like an embarrassment of riches. I had so much going on, and I was already committed to doing Guillermo's film...and after having such a wonderful experience again with Guillermo and really believing in that film, I don't really have any regrets," he said at the time. "I wouldn't have lost out on that experience to work with Guillermo again for the world."

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That said, he wishes he could have brought Christian Grey to life opposite Dakota Johnson's Anastasia Steele. "I felt like I had an interesting take on that character and felt like I could have done a good job," he told Us. "I really had a clear idea of what I wanted to do. When you put the time into something like that and a character comes alive in your mind, it's heartbreaking not to be able to play him."

Hunnam is eager to see Dornan's interpretation of Grey, though. He joked Sunday that the Once Upon a Time actor is "probably a lot better looking and a lot smoother" than he would have been. "I would've brought a certain rugged charm to [the role]," he quipped, "but believe me—he's going to do just fine." 

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The star also had some kind words for author E.L. James, who wrote the book on which the movie is based. "I think people really do that book a disservice when they reduce it to ['mommy porn']," he said. "What she actually created is a really sophisticated dynamic, and [she] presented it in a package which was accessible to people who normally would be terrified of that subject...Actually, what she did was pretty brilliant."

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