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Dakota Johnson, Charlie Hunnam to Star in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

Universal will release the film Aug. 1, 2014

Dakota Johnson, the 23-year-old daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, has landed the steamy lead role of Anastasia Steele in Universal’s and Focus Features’ adaptation of E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Charlie Hunnam, who stars in TV’s “Sons of Anarchy,” was cast as the male lead Christian Grey.

James tweeted the news of both castings Monday morning.

Johnson had a small but memorable role in “The Social Network” before appearing in last year’s “21 Jump Street.” She’s currently shooting a modern-day re-telling of Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline.”

The storyline of “Fifty Shades” will require the former IMG model to participate in plenty of heated sex scenes, though it’s unclear how explicit the film will be. It seems unlikely that the numerous playful S&M scenes depicted in the book could be depicted with an “R” rating, so it could end up as one of the highest-profile NC-17 pics yet.

SEE ALSO: Charlie Hunnam to Star Opposite Dakota Johnson in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is being directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (“Nowhere Boy”) and produced by Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, along with James. Kelly Marcel penned the script.

Uni and Focus had spent the last month and a half searching for its two leads following Taylor-Johnson being tapped as director.

Popular on Variety

SEE ALSO: Can Sam Taylor-Johnson Light a Fire Under ’50 Shades of Grey’?

Hunnam had been offered the role with sources telling Variety he initially turned it down, though he reconsidered after having met with studio heads a little over a week ago to talk about the role.

Johnson, meanwhile, was among a handful of girls placed on a short list — which included Alicia Vikander, Imogeen Poots and Shailene Woodley — before finally landing the part.

The casting comes with plenty of time to spare as production isn’t expected to start till the end of October to meet the Aug. 1, 2014, release date.

The project does pose a few uncertainties, including the film’s rating, as well as just how willing will women be to venture to the theater to see the risque pic.

That said, “Fifty Shades” still is one of the most buzzed-about properties out there, which makes it an easy risk to take.

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