Charlie Hunnam has backed out from playing Christian Grey in the film version of EL James's best-selling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. (Reuters)
Charlie Hunnam has backed out from playing Christian Grey in the film version of EL James's best-selling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. (Reuters)

Charlie Hunnam has backed out from playing Christian Grey in the film version of EL James's best-selling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey.

The 33-year-old actor was scheduled to appear opposite Dakota Johnson, daughter of actors Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson.

In a statement on Deadline, Universal Pictures said: "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."

Hunnam had previously admitted, he was aware that he is not what some fans had in mind for the role.

"There are so many fans of that book and I know that on the surface, I'm probably not what everybody imagined," he told Entertainment Weekly, "Because reading is so personal and people bring a character to life in their imagination, they feel ownership over that character. That's daunting if I allowed myself to think about it too much. I'm taking it very seriously and intend to explore the nature of who this character is, what motivates him-and also dress up nice and look good in those suits."

James also took to her Twitter account to confirm his exit from the project.

"I wish Charlie all the best. x," she tweeted.

It was previously revealed that the Fifty Shades of Grey film will release in the United States on 1 July next year. British visual artist and film-maker Sam Taylor-Johnson will be directing a script written by Kelly Marcel. Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca (producers of Oscar-winning The Social Network) will work behind the scenes.