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Christian Grey actor search getting hot after Charlie Hunnam dropped role

6:29 PM, Oct 17, 2013   |    comments
The search is on for the new actor to play Christian Grey in the '50 Shades of Grey' movie after Charlie Hunnam dropped the role. In this photo, Hunnam is at the Four Seasons Hotel on June 30.
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(USA Today)-- The search for the new actor to portray billionaire Christian Grey in the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey is heating up, nearly a week after Charlie Hunnam dramatically dropped out of the part.

While Universal Pictures has kept mum about the search process, the rest of the media has been buzzing about potential Grey suitors as the film's Nov. 1 production start date looms.

A look at the freshest contenders:

Jamie Dornan. The Northern Irish actor and former Calvin Klein model is being touted as a "front-runner" by The Hollywood Reporter.The report claims that the 31-year-old Dornan was contacted already by Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley.

Dornan, who once dated Keira Knightley, played Sheriff Graham on the first season of Once Upon a Time. His one drawback, according to THR, is that his singer-actress wife Amelia Warner is pregnant, which "could complicate matters....The last thing Universal wants is another actor to emerge as its Fifty Shades protagonist only to waffle."

Christian Cooke. The British actor, 26, is listed as another "target," according toThe Hollywood Reporter. The report claims that both Cooke and Dornan were competing for the part before Hunnam was cast.

Francois Arnaud. The celebrity site Just Jared cited unnamed "sources close to the situation" saying that the 28-year-old French Canadian actor has been "approached for the role." Arnaud is best known as Cesare Borgia in Showtime's The Borgias.

Alexander Skarsgard. The True Blood actor is gaining momentum in the Grey derby, cited in the THR report and a favorite pick for TheWrap Deal Central Columnist Jeff Sneider.

"He is comfortable with the nudity on True Blood," says Sneider. "He's a known commodity with decent acting chops. His age, 37, is a strike against him. But I don't see why Universal couldn't age up the Christian Grey role. After all, 37, is still pretty young for a billionaire."

James Franco. He's a long shot. But the quirky A-list actor definitely likes to shake things up whether on a Comedy Central Roast or guest starring on General Hospital. Plus, he just received a big celebrity endorsement from Britney Spears who told London's KISS FM that she wanted him to play the part.

Billy Magnussen. Marc Malkin of Eonline.com reports that Magnussen is another new contender to the race. The 28-year-old is a major up-and-comer cast in the HBO series The Money and in the Disney production of Into the Woods alongside Hollywood A-listers like Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep. That's currently shooting in London.

"Yes, he sure has a hot Christian Grey-worthy bod!" Malkin writes.

Luke Bracey. Malkin writes that the 24-year-old Australian actor is also in the running. Bracey is best known for playing Trey Palmer on the Australian TV showHome and Away and the Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. He's hot enough to be the guy holding Selena Gomez's hand (his Monte Carlo co-star) at the InStyle Warner Bros Golden Globes party last January.

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