Charlie Hunnam, Dakota Johnson cast in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ movie — is this a good idea?

September 3, 2013

After many, many rumors about which actors would score the lead roles in the upcoming movie adaptation of best-selling erotica novel “Fifty Shades of Grey,” author E.L. James took to Twitter on Labor Day to announce the names of the lucky stars. Now that we’ve all had time to absorb the news about the casting — the most surprising aspect being that both leads are TV actors relatively unknown in the movie world — the question remains: Are these the right choices?

Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey, S&M enthusiast

Who he is: Hunnam, 33, is probably best known these days as Jax Teller in the FX motorcycle club drama “Sons of Anarchy,” though he got his big break this summer starring in action movie “Pacific Rim.” The actor, who is British, is known to U.K. audiences for starring in the British version of “Queer as Folk.” (Not the same as the one on Showtime.)

Is this a good idea for Hunnam? Most definitely — as much as “Sons of Anarchy” is critically beloved, this will raise his profile in a big way.

What do the fans think? Reaction has been mixed. Physically, Hunnam fits the part, but he’s older than the late-20s character in the books. Plus, some very upset fans had different choices in mind, such as Matt Bomer and Ian Somerhalder.

Is this a smart choice for the film? Difficult to predict: Fans will flock to see the movie no matter what, but casting a bigger name — “Vampire Diaries” viewers are already angry that Somerhalder didn’t get the role — could have resulted in a lot more buzz.

Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele, naive college student

Actress Dakota Johnson attends the 12th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball on June 8, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Chrysalis)
Actress Dakota Johnson attends the 12th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball on June 8, 2013. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Chrysalis)

Who she is: Johnson, 23, is best known for as the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith. On screen, she was the star of last year’s short-lived Fox comedy “Ben & Kate,” and made a random appearance in NBC’s “The Office” series finale. In film, she’s had smaller roles in “The Social Network,” “The Five-Year Engagement” and “21 Jump Street.”

Is this a good idea for Johnson? Well, her mom seems thrilled, according to this #proudmama tweet from Griffith. It won’t hurt for Johnson to raise her profile too, but given how personally some female readers take the novels, there may be some backlash that would be hard to overcome if she doesn’t meet fans’ expectations.

What do fans think? Again, the Internet isn’t thrilled. But when is it ever? While the age gap is correct, some don’t buy that Johnson has the right look for Anastasia, who plays the college student whom Christian Grey educates in the ways of … many things.

Is this a smart choice for the film? Again, female fans could be much harsher on the female lead — some were really rooting for “Gilmore Girls” star Alexis Bledel. But those reservations about Johnson won’t stop diehard readers from seeing the film.

Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
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