But should anyone be surprised? No. Not if you've been paying attention.
As I reported last time, Hunnam had resistance to the gig long before he'd accepted it. At the time, he claimed it was a scheduling issue. On his initial refusal Hunnam said, "I just, there was a bit of a timing issue where I just wanted to insure that I was going to have enough time to really do the preparation so I can bring this guy to life and do him justice."
But Peter Weller- yes, Robocop himself- painted a different picture. He was directing an episode of Hunnam's hit FX series "Sons of Anarchy," when he found out that the rising star was still unsure about taking the job after a second offer. "I said, ‘Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, what do you think, this is too pulpy or something?’ He said, ‘Ah.’ ‘Well, let me give you the list of actors who did matinee idol style stuff, beginning with Cary Grant. Let's go there. If you don’t do this, I’ll burn your house down.’”
Weller's quote is very revealing. It truly makes it seem like Hunnam's reluctance really had more to do with the project itself, or the type of role, than it did with any scheduling issue.
To add to it, Hunnam's longtime girlfriend, jewelry designer Morgana McNelis was said to be tense about the intimately erotic nature of the story. Hunnam went so far as to confirm her discomfort in an interview with Hollywoodlife: “Of course, it’s difficult being with an actor, you know? She is required to share certain parts of me with the world that she wouldn’t necessarily choose to do, but we have a great relationship and she loves me and wants to be with me and we’ve been together a long time now, and I think she understands and has come to terms with the fact that there are certain elements of me that she is going to have to share."
Universal has released a statement on Hunnam's departure in which they state:
“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."
So, in the end, he fell back on the original reason for not doing the film- at least publicly. But for anyone reading between the lines it doesn't take much of a leap to see that he was never keen on the project and that it would probably be much more trouble than it was worth to him.
This is probably welcome news to the bulk of his fans anyway, since they'd likely rather watch him dicing up kaiju on the big screen than bumping uglies with Don Johnson's daughter.
Source: Universal Pictures