Christian Grey Update

Tony-nominated actorBilly Magnussenis among a small group of men who have begun testing for the role of Christian Grey in the big-screen adaptation ofEL James’Fifty Shades of Grey.

Universal Pictures and Focus Features restarted their efforts to fill the male lead afterSons of AnarchystarCharlie Hunnamdropped out of the project Oct. 12. Their shortlist of possibilities includesMagnussen and British actorJamie Dornan.

Sources say that both Dornan, the 31-year-old star of the U.K. seriesThe Fall, and the 28-year-old Magnussen, who was nominated for a best featured actor Tony this year forVanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, tested with directorSam Taylor-Johnsonon Friday. They read opposite female leadDakota Johnson.

The studio is looking to move fast, given that the film is scheduled to begin production Nov. 1 in order to meet an Aug. 1, 2014, release date.

Magnussen, an American actor, is scheduled to shoot HBO’sDavid MilchpilotThe Moneyin the next few weeks, but sources say his schedule could be worked out forFifty Shades. He would be a departure for the mostly British production. James, Taylor-Johnson and writerKelly Marcelall are U.K. natives, as is Hunnam.

Magnussen isn’t afraid to take over a project after another actor falls out. He replacedJake Gyllenhaalas Rapunzel’s Prince in Disney’s musicalInto the Woods.

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