In a matter of weeks, Jamie Dornan will suit up to play the damaged billionaire Christian Grey — opposite Dakota Johnson’s Anastasia Steele — in the adaptation of E L James’ bestselling novel Fifty Shades of Grey. The Northern Irish actor landed the role through a circuitous route, replacing Sons of Anarchy actor Charlie Hunnam after he dropped out of the film in mid-October. In this week’s cover story, he spoke with EW exclusively about his trek through the audition process and how he’s prepping his body for the part.
It’s the most high-profile role of Dornan’s career, one he’s approaching both rationally and with a great degree of excitement. “I certainly don’t fear it,” Dornan says. “I already got a glimpse into working with [director] Sam [Taylor-Johnson] at the test, and I’d met [co-star] Dakota [Johnson] by then. So I had a glimpse into how I felt it would be if I got the part. None of it scared me.”
Dornan initially performed an audition on tape for the first round of casting but didn’t progress to a face-to-face meeting until Hunnam bailed last month. “You know, one door closes, another opens,” Dornan says. ”When he dropped out, I didn’t instantly think, ‘Oh here we go, maybe I should cancel that holiday,’ but I did feel that maybe we’d revisit the idea of me.”
Revisit they did. Dornan was flown out to Los Angeles for an intense, day-long audition opposite Dakota Johnson, who had landed her role in early September. The two re-enacted the initial interview scene when Ana first meets Christian at his spacious office in Seattle, followed by the climactic scene near the end of the book.
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