Entertainment & Arts

Jamie Dornan steps into Fifty Shades lead

Jamie Dornan in The Fall
Image caption Dornan played a serial killer in this year's BBC drama The Fall

British actor Jamie Dornan will replace Charlie Hunnam in the forthcoming film adaptation of erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.

Belfast-born Dornan, best known for his roles in BBC drama The Fall and US fantasy series Once Upon A Time, will play lead character Christian Grey.

"Stow your twitchy palms ladies ... our man is here," confirmed Fifty Shades author EL James on Twitter.

He is expected to sign up for at least three films based on the book trilogy.

Published in 2011, Fifty Shades of Grey follows the sexually-charged relationship between billionaire Grey and college student Anastasia Steele, who will be played by Dakota Johnson - daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith.

The novel and its two sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, have become a literary phenomenon that earned author James a reported $95m (£61.5m) last year.

There has been intense speculation over who will star in the film adaptation, which will be directed by another Briton, artist Sam Taylor-Johnson.

Dornan is understood to have screen-tested for the role before Hunnam was cast, reports Variety. Universal Studios have yet to officially confirm his casting.

Hunnam dropped out of the role earlier this month. Universal Pictures said his sudden departure was a mutual decision due to a scheduling problem with the actor's TV commitments.

However, there have been reports that the Sons of Anarchy actor had been overwhelmed by the media attention.

He was also reported to have been dissatisfied with Kelly Marcel's screen adaptation. Closer's Patrick Marber, who was Oscar-nominated for his Notes on a Scandal screenplay, is currently working on the screenplay, with Universal hoping to begin shooting next month.

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