Charlie Hunnam has dropped out of the highly anticipated film adaptation of the steamy best-selling novel "Fifty Shades of Grey," according to a report in People magazine.
The "Sons of Anarchy" star was cast in the role of Christian Grey, a 27-year-old billionaire businessman who is into S&M sex and begins a contractual relationship with college student Anastasia Steele, who will be played by actress Dakota Johnson.
In a statement from Universal Pictures and Focus Features, the studio behind the film, Hunnam's grueling television schedule is cited as the reason for his departure from the movie.
"The filmmakers of 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and Charlie Hunnam have agreed to find another male lead given Hunnam's immersive TV schedule which is not allowing him time to adequately prepare for the role of Christian Grey," Universal Pictures and Focus Features said in a joint statement obtained by People magazine.
Production on Hunnam's FX series "Sons of Anarchy" was scheduled to end on Oct. 21, with production of "Fifty Shades of Grey" slated to begin in November in Vancouver. The film has been scheduled to be released on Aug. 1, 2014.
Author EL James, who wrote the popular "Fifty Shades" trilogy, tweeted about Hunnam's exit from the film to her more than 400,000 Twitter followers, saying, "I wish Charlie all the best. x"
When asked by OTRC.com about being cast in the role of Christian Grey in September, Hunnam said, "You know, I wasn't familiar with the material. I obviously knew of it, but I hadn't read the books myself and I was approached by the director, Samantha Taylor-Johnson, and she talked to me at great length about her intention and what she hoped to do with this film and it just got me really, really excited when I read the book."
Hunnam continued, "As the process progressed and it became clear that they wanted me to do it, it was just really exciting and a great honor to be entrusted with bringing this character to life."