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‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Brings on Writer Patrick Marber for Script Polishing; Search for New Christian Grey Continues UPDATED

'Fifty Shades of Grey' Brings on Writer Patrick Marber for Script Polishing; Search for New Christian Grey Continues UPDATED

UPDATE: On the heels of star Charlie Hunnam dropping out of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” leaving the Universal/Focus Features production to find a new Christian Grey STAT, it’s been announced the film has brought on Oscar-nominated scribe Patrick Marber (“Notes on a Scandal”) to do some clean-up work on the script.

Marber’s polishing will include “character work.” Per THR, the hiring of Marber came before Hunnam’s drop-out.  

Reportedly current possible replacements for Hunnam include Jamie Dornan (“The Fall”) and Alexander Skarsgard (“True Blood”). The studio is also reconsidering names from their original list of contenders, including Theo James (“Divergent”) and Christian Cooke (“The Promise”). Garrett Hedlund is now unavailable with Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” getting underway

EARLIER: I’m not buying the Universal/Focus Features explanation for why Charlie Hunnam has ditched the film adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey”:

“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.” 

It’s classic studio spin. The real reasons are “creative differences” or a degree of discomfort with the sexual material. In other words, he got cold feet. But as Hunnam pointed out before, he had no issues with his early role in TV series “Queer as Folk.” Inevitably, he had to feel comfortable with whatever director Sam Taylor-Wood was demanding from him as Master of the Universe Christian Grey. 

The question is: who’s next to play opposite Hollywood sprig Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele? Jennifer Ehle recently joined the project as her mother. The film is set for August 2014 release, so the clock is ticking on getting started.

I doubt that James Schamus’s recent departure from Focus Features has much to do with this change, as Universal chairman Donna Langley and producers Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca have always had a strong hand in this production, which is scripted by “Saving Mr. Banks” writer Kelly Marcel. 

As De Luca explained to me: 

You have to divorce yourself from the idea that that book is going to be literally translated. The book is very explicit, because she [E.L. James] wanted to get inside the head of that young girl as she goes through this character arc of growing up, and being opened up to a sexual relationship for the first time. It’s literal by design of the author. With movies we all know, a picture is worth 1,000 words. So the cinematic language for the movie, is the opposite. It doesn’t have to be explicit, because images are so powerful. You’re dealing with a cinematic language from adult human relationships that have worked, like Adrian Lyne’s ouevre from the late 80s and early 90s. 

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