Perhaps it’s because he’s taken a hiatus from Hollywood, or perhaps it’s because he’s not willing to expose his junk to millions of eager viewers, but in the latest Fifty Shades of Grey casting news, fans discovered that swoon-worthy Ryan Gosling turned down the chance to play S&M enthusiast Christian Grey. According to THR, Gosling simply “was not interested” in portraying the 27-year-old billionaire.
It’s hard to imagine what Hollywood actor would turn down a chance to star in arguably the most anticipated book-to-film adaptation of recent years. But this isn’t a franchise that deals with teen lust, pale-skinned vampires, or surviving in a gladiatoresque arena. The film adaptation hasn’t sprung from YA fiction, and certainly isn’t SFW.
Fifty Shades follows college student Anastasia Steele as she falls into a (seemingly unhealthy) relationship with a rich, handsome, and older gentleman who has a dark secret: he gets off on feeling pain and inflicting pain on the women he sleeps with.
And in this day and age, perhaps the topic is still too taboo for Hollywood A-listers to agree to attach their name to the project. On The Road’s Garrett Hedlund was pursued heavily by Universal, but in the end decided he couldn’t “connect” with the character. Because the film’s director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, is married to 23-year-old actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson, it was speculated that the director might cast her much younger hubby, but Aaron’s publicist said simply, “Aaron is not doing Fifty Shades of Grey.” Armie Hammer, a fan favorite to play the lead, said to Playboy: “No one actually offered me the movie, but while I was working on Lone Ranger my agent brought it up, and I said ‘Nope.’ I mean, come on—it’s just mommy porn. I’m not going to sit on top of the laundry machine in spin cycle reading about putting a ball gag in someone’s mouth. That doesn’t do it for me.”
In terms of casting Ana Steele, the young and naive victim of the “Red Room of Pain,” there were a handful of stars speculated to take the part. The Perks of Being a Wallflower’s Emma Watson took to Twitter to deny casting rumors: “Who here actually thinks I would do 50 Shades of Grey as a movie? Like really. For real. In real life,” she wrote. And Fifty Shades author E.L. James loved the idea of Shailene Woodley (The Spectacular Now) as Ana, but Woodley, who admitted she had no qualms with the nudity or explicit sex that would be tied to the project, was already committed to another book-to-screen adaptation, Divergent.
Ultimately lesser-known actors Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) and Dakota Johnson (Ben and Kate) were cast in the coveted roles. Fan reactions have been somewhat negative, with a petition on Change.org to recast the film with Alexis Bledel and Matt Bomer as the leads. Producer Dana Brunetti responded to the petition, saying: "There is a lot that goes into casting that isn't just looks. Talent, availability, their desire to do it, chemistry with other actor, etc. So if your favorite wasn't cast, then it is most likely due to something on that list. Keep that in mind while hating and keep perspective."