The other main character, Anastasia Steele, will be played by Dakota Johnson.
The film will be directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and produced by Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti alongside James.
Hunnam currently stars as Jackson “Jax” Teller on the FX series Sons of Anarchy, and was the lead in Pacific Rim. The casting for the role of Grey, who is a 27-year old billionaire who inducts Anastasia into a world of bondage, was one of the most hotly debated items over the past few months in Hollywood.
Dakota Johnson is relatively unknown, but she has a deep Hollywood pedigree, being the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, and the granddaughter of Birds actress Tippi Hedren.
The film is set to be released on August 1, 2014.
Updated with a press release from Universal:
Charlie Hunnam will star as Christian Grey, the lead male character in Universal Pictures and Focus Features’ highly anticipated film adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” it was announced today. He joins Dakota Johnson, who will star opposite him as Anastasia Steele. The film, which will be released by Focus Features on August 1, 2014 in North America, is being directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and produced by Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti alongside E L James, the author of the #1 bestselling book on which the film is based. The screenplay is by Kelly Marcel. The announcement about Mr. Hunnam’s casting in Fifty Shades of Grey was made today by Ms. James.
Mr. Hunnam currently stars as a regular on the critically acclaimed FX series Sons of Anarchy. His feature film credits include Pacific Rim, Children of Men, Cold Mountain, and Nicholas Nickleby.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” has become a global phenomenon and the trilogy has been translated in 50 languages worldwide since its release. To date, the “Fifty Shades” trilogy has sold over 70 million copies worldwide in e-book and print, making it one of the fastest-selling book series ever.
Universal and Focus acquired the rights to the three books in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy in March 2012. Focus Features will market and distribute the first film in partnership with Universal.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” follows the relationship of 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey and college student Anastasia Steele. Subsequent novels in the series, “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed,” explore the couple’s deepening relationship.