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Kinkiest Couple of the Year?

Fans consider casting choices for “Fifty Shades” movie adaptation

The entertainment world is currently scrambling to establish opinions on the actor and actress chosen to play world’s kinkiest couple. For months, weekly gossip magazines have published fine efforts to predict the sexy couple, though fruitlessly. No, our Christian Grey will not be Ryan Reynolds. No, our Christian Grey will not be Taylor Lautner or Andrew Garfield. No, surprisingly, our Christian Grey will not even be one of those relatively known actors universally acknowledged as good looking.

Instead, our Christian is Charlie Hunnam, a British actor who starred in the British television series “Queer as Folk.” Dakota Johnson, who was “Kate” in Fox’s short-running “Ben and Kate,” will costar as the fabulously diffident Anastasia Steele. Few Americans recognize Hunnam, mostly because he’s a British star. Even fewer recognize Johnson, probably because “Ben and Kate” was one of those single-camera shows that fell short just as television was getting good again.

In the trilogy, Grey’s character-defining and least-convincing struggle is loving Anastasia and controlling his kinky appetite. When Anastasia expresses some, but not complete interest, it only throws Grey into more confusion.

How Hunnam portrays this inner struggle will either make or break his role. Unfortunately, Hunnam already has the literature working against him; not even E L James could make Christian Grey’s struggle compelling. Failing that, Hunnam’s chief responsibility is to master Grey’s only truly captivating quality — being sexy and taciturn. If it satisfied in the trilogy, why would it not satisfy on the big screen? Robert Pattinson employed the same seductive mysteriousness for his role Edward Cullen in the Twilight movies, and they did just fine.

As for Johnson as Anastasia Steele, she at least has more variety in facial expression than Kristen Stewart. But I remain unconvinced she will be clumsy enough. And it’s sad to think that when Johnson bites her lip à la Anastasia, she will not convincingly entice Christian But-I-just-can’t-control-myself Grey.

But I am forever hopeful that Johnson makes Anastasia seem as smart as the book suggests. When Anastasia lands a small-press editorship under the omnipresent hand of Grey, maybe Johnson will surmise a tone that is convincingly outraged. Where the book failed, perhaps the movie will repair — though that seems almost the exact opposite of what the general book-to-movie transition does.

The greatest struggle will be when Hunnam must portray an emotional Grey who reveals his kinks to Anastasia. He will have to tread a delicate line between being sexy and creepy. In the book, Grey can be creepy — Grey is creepy. He buys Anastasia particular clothes, he makes her stay at home and it’s hard for him to see her happy with other people who are not him. In the book, people notice. Anastasia’s best friend constantly comments, “He’s weird.” But can Hunnam be weird? In almost every paparazzi picture and Google image, Charlie Hunnam is smiley and beaming. Christian Grey smiles about once in the whole trilogy. And that, sums it up. You can’t cast sunshine-bright characters for a ‘grey’ plot.


Published September 16, 2013 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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