Would Charlie Hunnam Have Made A Better Christian Grey Than Jamie Dornan in ‘Fifty Shades?

There was once a time when Charlie Hunnam was set to star as the lead man in E.L. James’ hit erotic franchise, Fifty Shades of Grey. The Sons of Anarchy star, however, backed out at the last minute, leaving fans wondering how much different the movies would have turned out with Hunnam at the helm. But would the British hunk have played a better Christian Grey than Jamie Dornan?

Charlie Hunnam dropped out of 'Fifty Shades' in order to focus on the final season of 'Sons of Anarchy.'
Charlie Hunnam | Photo by Pablo Cuadra/WireImage

Hunnam lands the part of a lifetime

For six weeks in 2013, Hunnam enjoyed more popularity than ever after James confirmed that he would appear on the big screens as Mr. Grey. At the time, Hunnam was still playing the part of Jax Teller on Sons of Anarchy and had built a large fan following over the years. Those same fans were thrilled at the prospect of watching Hunnam show off his sculpted abs alongside the gorgeous Dakota Johnson.

But all that excitement was shattered when Hunnam announced that he had quit the project with less than a month until filming began.

According to E! Online, Hunnam’s abrupt exit led to many rumors about how he hated the script and disliked being the center of attention. At the time, inside sources claimed that Charlie Hunnam did not want to be famous on a large scale and decided that participating in the project would require him to change too much of himself.

This echoes what Hunnam had previously shared about not wanting to be famous, though we would later learn that a scheduling conflict was the real reason he was forced to walk away.

Hunnam opens up about bailing on ‘Fifty Shades’

Despite all of the rumors surrounding his exit, Hunnam remained mum about the situation until 2015. In an interview, the actor revealed that he had already agreed to film a movie with Guillermo Del Toro, called Crimson Peak, which conflicted with his scheduling for Fifty Shades of Grey. Hunnam was also coming off another season of Sons of Anarchy and was not ready to take on so many projects at once.

“Oh, it was the worst professional experience of my life. It was the most emotionally destructive and difficult thing that I’ve ever had to deal with professionally,” Hunnam shared. “It was heartbreaking.”

Hunnam added that he personally called director Sam Taylor-Johnson to break the news. After crying together for 20 minutes, Hunnam told her that he was not in a good enough place, both mentally and physically, to play the part of Christian Grey. As the years have passed, Hunnam has gone into more detail about his shocking decision.

In 2017, Hunnam confessed that he tried to change the character too much and realized that his version of Christian Grey was nothing like what James described in the books.

How would Hunnam have handled the role?

One of the questions going into the role was how Hunnam would handle the erotic elements. Hunnam had plenty of experience showing off his body on Sons of Anarchy, but Fifty Shades of Grey would take things to the next level.

As far as Hunnam is concerned, however, he was well equipped to handle whatever sex scenes Taylor-Johnson and company threw at him. After all, Hunnam’s role as a young gay man on Queer as Folk was about as sexual as you can get.

Shortly after Hunnam bowed out, Taylor-Johnson and James called in Dornan for an audition. The actor had previously applied for the part and admitted that he thought he would get a second chance after he heard about Hunnam. While the novels were immensely popular, the movies received mix reviews, though they did make the studio a lot of money. The first film, Fifty Shades of Grey, took home over $569 million at the box office.

Who would have played a better Mr. Grey?

At the end of the day, it is difficult to determine if Hunnam would have played a better Christian Grey than Jamie Dornan. We can say, however, that Charlie Hunnam’s version of the character would have been much different from Dornan’s portrayal of the billionaire. That does not mean it would have been better but it does leave fans wondering how the movies would have turned out if Hunnam would have stayed on board.

Although Hunnam disappointed Taylor-Johnson, the two reunited on her 2018 movie, A Million Little Pieces.