Universal set tongues wagging when they announced that Charlie Hunnam had landed the coveted (?) role of Christian Grey in the upcoming adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, set to appear opposite Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele. But before fans of the novel series have had time to recover from the fact that Hunnam had left the picture, even more announcements have arrived.
Not only has the studio signed an Oscar-nominated screenwriter to take a finishing pass on the film's script, but just a day after the film lost one of its leads, new frontrunners have already emerged.
According to THR, the studio has brought on screenwriter Patrick Marber (Closer, Notes on a Scandal) to 'polish' the existing screenplay written by Kelly Marcel, based on E.L. James' novel. Before skeptics start spreading rumors, it seems that the move to bring on Marber was made the day before Hunnam left the film, so the two events are apparently unrelated.
The far more volatile news will be the emergence of a few new frontrunners for the role of the titular Grey: none other than True Blood heartthrob Alexander Skarsgård among them.
The Swedish-born actor's name has been thrown around for virtually any budding franchise or romantic role targeting a female audience these days, and while we'd agree that he's bound for bigger things, we're somewhat hesitant to believe he'll take the prize.
However, Skarsgård has courted some controversy in the past by showing plenty of skin, so it's no surprise to see him among the new contenders. But the actors joining him are nowhere near as well-known.
Apparently, Universal and director Sam Taylor-Johnson are currently eying Jamie Dornan (The Fall), Theo James (Divergent), and Christian Cooke (Romeo & Juliet). All fit squarely in the 'young up-and-comer' category, so it will be interesting to see which way the studio ends up leaning. Especially since the chosen actor will not only be thrust into the spotlight (one of the rumored reasons for Hunnam's hesitance), but will inevitably find themselves at the center of a sexual controvery.
Of course, with such a popular novel series, fans tend to make their voices heard. So it's worth mentioning that the likes of Ryan Gosling, Matt Bomer (White Collar) and Ian Somehalder (The Vampire Diaries) - three fan-favorites who have never really left the discussion - will continue to pop up as well.
At this point, it's hard to believe any actor has a true edge over the competition. The studio is certainly in a hurry to cast the role and move into production before the end of the year, but unless Universal has had a backup in mind for some time, expect more names to be mentioned in the coming weeks.
Are you happy to hear that more high profile actors are in the running to bring the novel's leading man to life? Be sure to let us know what you think of these contenders in the comments, and offer a few of your own hopes.
Fifty Shades of Grey is currently scheduled to open in theaters on August 1st, 2014.
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