Charlie Hunnam Pulls Out of Fifty Shades of Grey, Studio to Recast Role

10/12/2013 at 03:15 PM EDT

Charlie Hunnam Pulls Out of Fifty Shades of Grey, Studio to Recast Role
Charlie Hunnam
Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP
There's no shortage of risqué bondage in Fifty Shades of Grey but there seems to be one person producers had trouble tying down: their leading man.

Charlie Hunnam, who had been cast as Christian Grey in the high-profile movie adaptation of the steamy literary saga, has exited the project.

"The filmmakers of Fifty Shades of Grey and Charlie Hunnam have agreed to find another male lead given Hunnam’s immersive TV schedule which is not allowing him time to adequately prepare for the role of Christian Grey," Universal Pictures and Focus Features said Saturday in a joint statement.

Shortly after the news broke, Fifty Shades of Grey author E L James took to Twitter to offer up a sweet send-off to the film's erstwhile star.

"I wish Charlie all the best," the scribe wrote.

In early September, producers announced that Hunnam, who is best known for his portrayal of Jackson "Jax" Teller on Sons of Anarchy, won the coveted role of Grey after a whirlwind casting search.

Names bandied about for the role included Matt Bomer and Ian Somerhalder, among a slew of other contenders.

Dakota Johnson eventually snagged the role of the film's leading lady, Anastasia Steele.

Immediately after he was cast, Hunnam, 33, spoke to reporters about his initial meeting with the film's director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, to discuss the project.

"We both suggested I do a reading with Dakota, who was her favorite," he recalled. "As soon as we got in the room, I knew that I definitely wanted to do it. There's just a tangible chemistry between us. It felt exciting and fun and weird and compelling."

No word yet on whether Hunnam's exit will impact the film's production schedule – it was reportedly set to begin shooting in November and hit theaters on Aug. 1, 2014.

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