Casting Christian Grey, the centerpiece of E.L. James' hit erotic romance trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey, was a daunting task. And now that the author has locked down her two leads — Charlie Hunnam as the mysterious Grey, and Dakota Johnson as spirited, wide-eyed Anastasia Steele — fans are abuzz about whether the decisions were the right ones.
Hunnam, who recently graced the big screen with his turn as Raleigh Becket in summer blockbuster Pacific Rim, is no stranger to the industry, but his resume may be slightly less familiar to U.S. audiences, having gotten his start in bit-roles on UK TV series.
Here, Us Weekly shares five things you might not know — but should know! — about the 33-year-old British actor.
1. Yes, he's British. Hunnam was born in Newcastle, England, where he attended the Cumbria College of Art Design, graduating with a degree in the theory and history of film. The actor got his start on British children's show Byker Grove, and later played a recurring role as a gay schoolboy on UK series Queer as Folk. His first role after making the leap to Hollywood was as high school student Gregory Ryder on 2000's WB series Young Americans. Hunnam also had a role as English drama student Lloyd Haythe on short-lived Fox series Undeclared, which ran from 2001-2003.
2. Hunnam once auditioned for Dawson's Creek. Life might've been quite different for the actor had he landed a role on the iconic 90s WB show, but though he didn't get the part, Hunnam didn't walk away empty-handed: He met his now-ex-wife, Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress Katherine Towne, at the audition in 1999. The two tied the knot in Vegas after just four weeks of dating, but ultimately called it quits on their marriage in 2002.
3. Fans like to give Hunnam knives as presents. The actor, who plays Jackson "Jax" Teller on biker series Sons of Anarchy, told GQ UK in an interview earlier this year that he's been gifted weapons on more than one occasion — from fans from both the biking community and the military. "In the show I carry a Ka-Bar, which is the U.S. Marine Corps' standard issue knife," he told the magazine. "So now I have dozens of Ka-Bars that military guys have given me and I've been told a couple of them 'have been used.' Which is a little bit…grimy, you know?"
4. He's a gym nut. Hunnam enjoys working out and once told Men's Fitness that he feels "happier, more confident, and more positive" when he works out. "I feel like I'm a better actor because of the clarity it gives me," he told the magazine. His motivation stems in part from his gritty upbringing in northern England. "I was a city kid in a country environment, and I got a couple of real good beatings," he said, "five or six guys just slamming me."
5. But Hunnam's a budding screenwriter, too! The 6'1" actor recently sold a supernatural screenplay, Vlad, to Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B, about Dracula's early life, though it's "sitting on the shelf right now." The other script he's currently working on is about American drug lord Edgar Valdez, and how "this blonde-haired, blue-eyed all-American kid who had great aspirations for his life .. lost it all in one fell swoop. …It's an exploration of the death of the American dream. That's what I'm interested in."
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