It's no secret that casting the Fifty Shades of Grey film adaptation has been tricky for Universal, but there's no doubt that the studio wants the film to be released while E.L. James' much-discussed book series is still a relatively hot topic. Although execs would have liked to see the project shooting already, they have to be pleased that the cast is finally starting to come together.
After the sudden departure of Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam, it didn't take long for the film to find another up-and-coming actor - in the form of Jamie Dornan (The Fall) - to replace him as Billionaire playboy Christian Grey (opposite Dakota Johnson's Anastasia Steele). Now, with their leads finally locked in, the studio and filmmakers are wasting no time rounding out the supporting players, as they added another to the project this week.
According to Variety, the film has cast 29-year-old actor Luke Grimes as Grey's adopted brother Elliot. Along with Johnson and Dornan, he now joins a cast that includes Jennifer Ehle (Pride & Prejudice) as Steele's mother Carla and a production directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy).
Grimes is best known for his TV work - primarily as James from season 6 of True Blood - but has also played small parts in several films, including Taken 2. It's unclear how big of a role Elliot will play in this first Fifty Shades - since it depends on how the script differs from the source material - but considering the character appears prominently in the sequels, it could easily be the biggest opportunity of Grimes' young career if the film launches a franchise.
While talk of a Fifty Shades franchise will likely induce as many groans as it will cheers, Universal probably only cares about the box office returns - which could be pretty high, given the immense popularity of the best-selling novels.
Of course, it's possible the film's expected sexually-explicit content could turn more viewers off than on, which could kill the prospect of a series. Since we haven't heard about any multi-picture deals for the actors already on board, it's likely that the studio is waiting - like all of us - to see what the general response will be.
With several major roles - including Steele's roommate Kate and Grey's bodyguard - yet to be cast, expect more Fifty Shades of Grey news soon.
Fifty Shades of Grey is scheduled to hit theaters August 1st, 2014.