By Yohana Desta. Photos: Getty Images.
Those who still haven’t seen Fifty Shades of Grey can count actor Charlie Hunnam among their ranks—though he has a slightly different reason for avoiding the raunchy romance franchise starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. In an interview with Elle, via E!, Hunnam revealed that he still hasn’t watched the first movie because it reminds him of a chaotic time in his career.
“I developed a friendship with [director Sam Taylor-Johnson],” Hunnam explained in the interview. “But that was a somewhat traumatic experience for me. I didn’t want to open that wound.”
See, many moons ago, Hunnam was tapped to play Christian Grey, the suave billionaire who sweeps Johnson’s Anastasia off her feet. He was cast in the role in 2013, but eventually had to drop out of the project due to scheduling conflicts. So the part went to Dornan instead—but fans were still left wondering why Hunnam wouldn’t rearrange his schedule to fit in something with this kind of box-office potential.
Hunnam wouldn’t give a more detailed explanation of his rationale until a few years later, in a 2015 interview with V Man. There, Hunnam said that he was still working on Season 7 of Sons of Anarchy when he was cast in Fifty Shades and had signed on to do Guillermo Del Toro’s gothic romance Crimson Peak as well. Hunnam had given Del Toro his word that he’d star in the film, despite the fact that it was shooting around the same time as Fifty Shades. And much as a Lannister always pays his debts, a Hunnam never goes back on his word.
“People were saying, ‘Are you crazy?,’ ” Hunnam said. “ ‘Guillermo still has got four months to recast, it’s the fourth lead, you can go and do this [instead].’ I said, ‘I can’t. He’s my friend.’ ”
Hunnam said that he initially tried to cram everything in by finishing Sons, then “fly[ing] to Vancouver the next day [for Fifty Shades], have 10 days of rehearsal, and then start shooting . . . Then I was going to have three days after that and I’d have to start shooting Crimson Peak, and then I’d have two days to travel and go back into Season 7 of Sons.”
This is the kind of packed schedule some working actors dream of—but in practice, it’s far messier and emotionally damaging than in theory. So Hunnam ultimately decided to pass on Fifty Shades, which he called “the worst professional experience of my life.”
“It was the most emotionally destructive and difficult thing that I’ve ever had to deal with professionally,” he said in 2015. “It was heartbreaking.”
And all these years later, it seems like Christian Grey is still haunting Hunnam.
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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