Jamie Dornan Cast as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey: Why He Won the Role

Jamie Dornan shirtless in Miami Beach, Florida on January 25, 2013
Jamie Dornan has been cast as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey Pichichi/Splash News; Dave M. Benett/Getty (inset)

Welcome to the big (sexy) time, Jamie Dornan! After weeks of speculation about a crowded field of hunky, if not-so-well known, contenders, the Irish actor and model, 31, has been cast as Christian Grey in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey following Charlie Hunnam's talked-about exit, Us Weekly can confirm. Variety was first to report the news that film producers selected Dornan, who plays Sheriff Graham Humbert on ABC's Once Upon a Time and has shown off his chiseled bod in underwear ads for Calvin Klein.

As directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, Dornan will star opposite Dakota Johnson, who still retains the role of Anastasia Steele in the erotic flick, based on book one of E.L. James' bestselling S&M trilogy. The hunk (who also appeared on British series The Fall and in Sofia Coppolla's film Marie Antoinette) beat out the likes of fellow new finalists Billy Magnussen and Luke Bracey, a source tells Us, with the majority of screen tests taking place late last week in Hollywood. "The audition process was an embarrassment of riches," the source adds. "There were some fierce performances!"

How Dornan come out on top? "Everyone trusts that he'll make an excellent Christian and will do the role justice," the insider says. And, unlike Sons of Anarchy star Hunnam, 33, who got cold feet over the script and other issues, Dornan is "all in," the source says. "His contract is set — this has the potential to make him a huge star."

"Jamie has a really good reputation as someone easy to work with, easy going and is seen as someone who will very appreciative of this role," another source said. "It's his charm and personality that is winning people over."

As for actress Johnson, 24? "She's ready for this role," the first source says.

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Want stories like these delivered straight to your phone? Download the Us Weekly iPhone app now!