"50 Shades of Grey" Locks In Its Official Leads, and They're Not Who You'd Expect

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50 Shades of Grey Locks In Its Official Leads, and They're Not Who You'd Expect

By Dustin Rowles | Book Reviews | September 2, 2013 | Comments ()


… and they are, Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson?

The nostril-flaring mediocre actor from Sons of Anarchy and Pacific Rim will join Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith’s daughter, Dakota Johnson (recently of “Ben and Kate”) in the adaptation of the poorly written erotica novel. Hunnam’s character is wealthy, damaged Christian Grey; Johnson will play Anastasia Steele, who falls for Grey and becomes his submissive lover.

These are very weird casting choices, and nothing like the A-list names that have been bandied around for months (including ScarJo, Robert Pattinson, Mila Kunis, and Emma Watson, among many others), and while I like both actors despite their faults (Hunnam is really not a very good actor and Johnson is full of endearing quirks), they’re not the choices I might have imagined. Ever. In fact, the pairing makes me uncomfortable because I’m sweet on Dakota Johnson, and I don’t want to see her in a damaging submissive sexual relationship, but perhaps that’s the point?

Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) is still in line to direct to movie based on the E.L. James bestseller.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Allie

    This was the best write-up of this news I've read. ;)

  • 'Anastasia Steele' sounds like the name one of the girls from 'Fox Force Five', Uma Thurman's failed pilot in 'Pulp Fiction, would have had. 'Christian Grey' is only marginally better.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    My erotic novel had the protagonists 'Brick Montezuma' and 'Constance Chastity'. Sadly, publishers wanted nothing to do with "Montezuma's Rage(r): The Dick Whisperer.

  • Other possible names:
    Bolt Vanderhuge
    Honey Cleft
    Brick Hardmeat
    Ophelia Deeply
    Flint Ironstag
    Punch Rockgroin
    Reef Blastbody
    Ryder Groynje
    Slate Slabrock
    Smoke Manmuscle

  • llp

    Before I forget, who is slated to review this movie? Do you plan this far ahead? TK, maybe? *fingers crossed*

  • Maguita NYC

    Why do I get the feeling you'll be receiving a bag of dicks by special delivery with a note requesting you eat it and die?

  • llp

    No way am I signing for that package.

    Also, I am doubtful that "eat it and die" will come in the form of anything so polite as a request.

  • Maguita NYC

    TK and polite form request? Come on!

  • Strand

    Just wait till Jax whips out the anal beads, it'll be a blast! In all seriousness, unless they tone it down, I'll enjoy this about as much as I enjoyed the rape scene in The (American) Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, aka not at all.

    I don't know anything about Dakota Johnson besides the fact she enjoys nepotism and played a butt in The Social Network. I fear for Hunnam.

  • firedmyass

    Unless they go full-Showgirls with this, my utter and complete disinterest will continue.

  • The Replicant Brooke

    God, I want to hate this movie so much because the book was SO HORRIBLE but the thought of this guy is some really smutty S&M scenes is just so appealing.

  • Bodhi

    Right?? I just hope they are actually smutty & not derpy, the way they are in the books.

  • $65530708

    NO Dakota NO!

  • PDamian

    I'm less surprised by the casting than astonished that anyone is surprised by the casting. There wasn't a snowball's chance that anyone with any real clout or fame was going to take one of these roles. The books may be runaway bestsellers, but they're still perceived as a bit illicit (I keep hearing people say that they bought Kindles or Nooks so they could read them in public without anyone knowing), and no-one with any chance at a real career in mainstream Hollywood wants to do something that might be perceived as porn.

    The only way this movie was going to be cast was with people who were either only somewhat successful who needed something really notorious and borderline kinky (that's "borderline," not "all-the-way kinky") to give their careers a boost (Hunnam), or unknowns who need a big role to propel them into the spotlight (Johnson). ScarJo? Emma Watson? They're both too successful to need shock casting. Pattinson? He's trying to break away from Twilight, and 50 Shades was originally a Twilight fanfic called Master of the Universe.

  • dizzylucy

    Exactly - no A lister was going to touch that one, considering that the overall word on the street is that the books were horribly written (I too have avoided reading them).
    Charlie's even a little higher on the totem pole than I would have expected for this movie.

  • kirbyjay

    Boosting one's career with a shocking movie? We all know how that turned out for Elizabeth Berkeley.
    More like turning yourself into a national punchline.

  • stump

    She isn't young looking enough and he isn't hot enough, facially.

  • The first half of that sentence was bad enough, and then you went and doubled down.

  • Az

    Stump's right. Part of the ick factor is that the girl not only IS young but also looks younger. And he isn't hot enough facially for the role.

  • NynjaSquirrel

    I just don't see him as the 'successful entrepreneur' - looks more like 'jock that spends all day with weights'.

  • foolsage

    Dustin wrote, "I don’t want to see her in a damaging submissive sexual relationship". Good news! You won't. Rather, you'll see her in an outright abusive relationship. The problem isn't the submission, but rather the fact that Christian Grey is a controlling, manipulative slimeball, whose lady is literally afraid of him. Christian makes Stanley Kowalski look like a reasonable and easy-going guy that every girl would love to have on her arm.

  • Hollyg

    I'm actually pissed this is being turned into a movie. Now I'll have to listen to a thousand friends and co-workers that have no idea what it feels like to be in an abusive relationship (be it physical or emotional) glamorize a narcissistic, authoritarian asshole and tell me I'm missing out on some WONDERFUL sex scenes.

    I like my sex without the humiliation and emotional scars, thank you.

  • foolsage

    Yeah, I feel your pain. Basically, this book somehow gained a wholly undeserved reputation as "hot", when in fact the sex is tepid. The "scandal" of a BDSM-based book was enough to draw people in, despite the fact that the relationship in question is deeply unhealthy for reasons unrelated to BDSM.

    Basically, you can't talk about this book without on some level talking about sex, which makes it a "sexy" book by default.

    There's nothing sexy about this book though.

  • axis2clusterB

    I think I might just love you. But I haven't been spanked enough lately - perhaps that's what's talking?

  • foolsage

    Why couldn't it be both?

  • So why does it make suburban moms titter so? I get the escapist fantasy elements, but if the books are really that bad (and I'll never have one in my cold, dead hands), in terms of the abusive relationship, how do so many moms who otherwise helicopter over their own children in all the bad ways find this, um, stimulating reading?

  • foolsage

    There's a lot of stigma associated with porn, and with open female sexuality as well. The "50 Shades" books provided an excuse to read about sex, and to discuss sexual topics.

    That'd be fine, if only these books weren't such utter rubbish.

  • axis2clusterB

    Honestly? It's chicks who don't have the balls to go for real porn that have made this a thing.

  • emmalita

    A lot of people still romanticize the damaged boyfriend saved by the love of a good woman bullshit.

  • Mrs. Julien

    c.f. Kresley Freakin' Cole

  • Bodhi

    Honestly, I think that people are too dumb to recognize shitty writing. The books are graphic, but not all *that* graphic. Just enough, I guess, to make folks who have zero experience with erotica think its scandalous. The author has no experience or knowledge of BDSM & treats it as something shameful, which is a whole 'nother problem with the book.

    As for the very seriously abusive relationship part, I think that people buy that its sexy. People are just dumb, unfortunately.

  • foolsage

    The books are NOT graphic. They're written in first person, and the narrator can't even refer to her own genitalia: it's just gradeschool nonsense like "I started to feel tingly… down there."

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Some people are too dumb to recognize bad writing, and some people, as many Pajibans will attest, read/watch/enjoy things that they know are not well-crafted works of entertainment, let alone art, and are still entertained/titillated. If the majority of men can be turned on by visual porn that shares only the slightest resemblance to a healthy/realistic sexual relationship, why shouldn't huge numbers of women be turned on by written erotica that is equally bad? Even though better options exist.

    Why this particular fanfic took off as mainstream reading, I have no idea. I'm not thrilled about it. But I do recognize that what turns people on a) makes almost no logical sense and b) most people don't read Savage Love or anything else that explains what an appropriate BDSM relationship is. And they aren't reading it for the healthy relationships, any more than the people who read about pirates ravishing fair virgins who fall in love with them later on are. Part of the reason it's sexy, I'd imagine, is because it is completely inappropriate.

  • koko temur

    this is sertously, the opposite of sexy. The heroine is too childlike to even say the word vagina. Or pussy, god forbid. Its all " omg! He touched me THERE". So to answer your question - immature women are who reads it.

  • foolsage

    There is a REALLY creepy infantilism vibe in these books. That, along with the eating disorders and flagrant abuse, makes it clear that these characters shouldn't be emulated. They're very disturbed people.

  • Bodhi

    I hear George Takei in my head every time she says "Oh my!"

  • Al Borland's Beard

    Maybe it's set in the 50's?

  • kirbyjay

    Oh well, at least they're reading..........
    or maybe not...

  • maydays

    I'm with you, kirbyjay. Maybe it's one less Kartrashian viewer (though I'm not sure which is the lesser evil.). At least they're reading.
    **Also, I'm a proud "Surburban Mom" who couldn't stand this book, or Twilight, but got sucked into reading the first of both series by the feeling that I was missing a phenomenon...**

  • Bodhi

    Ok. I based my opinion on people I know personally, many of whom really are too dumb to realize that 50 Shades is terribly written. I also read & watch trashy shit, probably even things that other people think are horrible dumb.

    Everyone is a snob about something & this series of books is my thing.

  • The Replicant Brooke

    But I'd be lying if I said picturing Hunnam in it isn't appealing. At least visually. I hope he keeps his beard on.

  • The Replicant Brooke

    It really is a shitty example of a BDSM relationship.

  • Meg

    Considering how much I've seen Charlie Hunnam's ass over the collected runs of Queer as Folk and Sons of Anarchy, I think we can all agree that he's very good at being hot and naked on camera. Which lets be real is probably all that will be required for this role. So, good choice?

  • Hunnam isn't all that versatile but he's fantastic as Jax. This last season in particular was a great performance.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Does she know her shirt is covered in chairs?

  • Jerce

    Not to snark on the messenger or anything, but this news is a bit like telling me that a soiled-diaper-and-used-motor-oil souffle with expired yogurt sauce is going to be prepared by Rachael Ray instead of some marginally more "talented" "chef" such as Mario Batali.
    In other words, I hate the concept, I hate the content, I consider the entire endeavor a waste of time, resources, human DNA and daylight, and believe that anyone and anything involved in it will carry the disgrace of it to the end of recorded time.
    ...But I guess since it's Labor Day and all, maybe I should just shut up and be grateful for a fresh Pajiba post.
    ...Nah, this is useless shit news even for Labor Day.

  • That's a rather large margin between Rachael Ray and Mario Batali. Just saying, irrespective of his somewhat less inspired commerical side endeavors.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    A+ for snark.

  • emmalita

    Perhaps it will be more "Dennis Reynolds: an Erotic Life" than straight forward adaptation. Yeah, I don't think so either.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Whatever it'll end up as, it'll be 10 times worse than that steamy masterpiece.

  • emmalita

    There probably won't be any Bon Jovie or stigmata. :(

  • zeke_the_pig

    Or Rob Thomas.
    Which is both a tragedy and a gift.

  • Bodhi

    I really hope these movies will be better than the books, but they are going to be terrible (which is a step up from the books) no matter who directs or is cast. Ana is more stupid & less self-aware than Bella Swan & Christian is just a horrible excuse for a person.

    Oh well, they will be something to hate watch

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Just like you, presumably, hate read?

  • Bodhi

    Yup. I hate read all the Twilight books, but I couldn't get through all of the 50 Shades books, they were just too awful

  • Yeh I only read a gif-tastic review of the 50 shades books. That was all I needed!

  • Hollyg

    Oh, I'd love a link to that

  • Bodhi

    Here is a great one. Its much better than the book


  • Yep that's the one! She took one (actually 3) for the team.

  • e jerry powell

    But Dustin, look at his tits!!!

  • van1968

    Haven't read the books and don't care about the adaptation, but I've followed the phenomenon well enough to appreciate the strategy of bringing in up-and-comers instead of A-listers. The story will bring in legions of fans all by itself; why spend the extra money on big names?

  • If this means Shirtless Jax or Jax in a Well Cut Suit, I might have to see it and then lie about having seen it.

  • logan

    i respect you for admitting to lying about seeing the movie. Funny how the books sold 67 bajillion copies but no one admits to reading them.

  • Meg

    The man actually does pull of the Well Cut Suit pretty well. Like I always kind of preferred the whole dirty gruff biker thing but then this Vanity Fair photo shoot happened...


  • llp

    I haven't read these books, and am unlikely to see the movies, but I have developed a thing for Hunnam based on Pacific Rim. I am sure he will be terrible, but hot. I look forward to some delightful gifs.

  • catherine751

    my Aunty Amelia got a nearly new green BMW X5 M SUV only from working off a macbook. Web Site w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

  • Maguita NYC

    This should be watched at the theaters the same way Magic Mike was: Rambunctious glee, perpetrated by sneaky drunkenness.

    Just for the Hunnamnam nakedness, and yes, nose flaring... Among other things.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ah, the classic "slippery Jesus" pose.

  • llp

    I also have never seen SOA, but I am weak for that oily Hunnam-ahummana picture. You just get me, Maguita NYC. Maybe you are my lobster.

  • Maguita NYC


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