Since 2011, E. L. James has made talking about S&M all the rage thanks to her pulpy paperback series Fifty Shades of Grey. The books became national bestsellers (hey, sex sells!) and Universal quickly optioned them. Almost immediately, the casting rumour mill began to work in overtime. Who would play the submissive Anastasia Steele? And who, perhaps more tantalizingly, would be cast as Christian Grey, the man who seduces her with gifts and new sexual predilections? Well, you’re getting bang for your buck, as this weekend both roles were confirmed. The world’s most famous BDSM couple will be portrayed by Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam.
There’s no doubt readers of the series will have strong views on this casting, given the immense popularity of the books. (But remember, initial dissent doesn’t always spell doom!) Of the two, Johnson feels like a bigger risk. She isn’t a huge name, being best known for her smaller roles in The Social Network and 21 Jump Street, neither of which really scream “sexually explicit romance-drama.” Yet that she’s lesser known could be a plus, as she brings a fresh face to the role. For instance, Kristen Stewart was offered up as a suggestion to play the part, but would audiences really have bought Bella get spanked in the bedroom?
As for Hunnam, he had his big screen breakthrough earlier this summer in Pacific Rim. Having proved his acting chops as a badass biker dude on Sons of Anarchy for several seasons, this casting now solidifies his transition to the silver screen. He also seems perfect for the part of Christian, given how much brooding went on in Sons and, more importantly, he has the abs.
Fifty Shades of Grey is currently in pre-production and is slated for release in August 2014—just in time for a summer heat wave.