Mark Wahlberg Wanted to Produce Fifty Shades of Grey, Jokes Brad Pitt Would Have Played Christian Grey

Mark Wahlberg and Brad Pitt
Mark Wahlberg says he wanted to produce Fifty Shades of Grey and thinks Brad Pitt would have been perfect for the role of Christian Grey Troy Rizzo/FilmMagic; Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Ah, what might have been. If Mark Wahlberg had his way, he'd be producing the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey — and Brad Pitt would be his leading man! The Pain & Gain star had been eyeing the movie rights to the erotic novel for some time and nearly fired his agent when he didn't get them, he revealed during the Hollywood Reporter's Producers Roundtable.

"I almost fired my agent Ari [Emanuel] over [Fifty Shades] — not because I wanted to play the part. We were aware of the book very early on, and we were close to securing the rights, and then we get into this bidding war," the 42-year-old actor explained of E.L. James' bestselling trilogy

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"We were so close to having [it]," he lamented. "That was one of the few times I was going to fire Ari."

In the end, the rights went to Dana Brunetti and Michael DeLuca, the latter of whom oversaw Wahlberg's 1997 movie Boogie Nights. DeLuca was a participant in the producers roundtable, too, and joked that the Ted actor would make a fantastic Christian Grey.

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"He looks a lot like Mark Wahlberg," the Fifty Shades producer quipped of the character. "I mean, the woman wrote a fantasy: a square-jawed, tall, broad-shouldered, genius, billionaire Adonis…"

"So, Mark," producer Dede Gardner piped in.

"No, sounds like Brad Pitt to me," Wahlberg joked in turn.

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As it stands, neither star will be stepping into Christian Grey's shoes for the much-anticipated movie version of the book. That honor goes to Jamie Dornan, who was cast after Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam dropped out of the project.

Asked about Hunnam's very public exit last month, DeLuca said he "didn't feel pressure" because he already had a "possible replacement" in mind. "It's called being prepared," he said.

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"It really went down to the wire. Everyone wanted it to work out, including Charlie," DeLuca explained. "In terms of schedule, to be free from Sons of Anarchy in time to show up on the set of our movie, the physical transformation and the psychological transformation from [his SOA character] Jax to Christian Grey was more than he could accomplish in the time that we had."

He continued: "We all hung on until the bitter end, but to his credit, he came to us and said, 'I don't think I'm going to be able to get there in the time we have, and I don't want to do a bad job. I'm not going to be able to turn into this guy.' And you've got to let go, too. Sometimes you can hold on too tight and not let go of something."

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