Ever since the movie rights to the best- selling erotic book Fifty Shades Of Grey were sold last March, there had been continual speculation about who would play the novel's two lovers.
This week, author E.L. James finally put an end to all the rumours by confirming that Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson will play the troubled billionaire Christian Grey and virginal student Anastasia Steele, whose kinky sexual exploits underpinned her three- book literary sensation, which started in 2011 and includes Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.
When Life! met Hunnam in Los Angeles this year to talk about the film Pacific Rim, his biggest project to date, the 33-year-old Briton brimmed with a confidence and ambition that seemed to dwarf what had been a steady but not quite spectacular career.
"In this period of my life, I've been getting to do the work that I feel is right for me and that I've always wanted to do," says the Newcastle-born actor, who has lived in the United States for 15 years and now speaks with a constantly shape-shifting accent. "Because in the beginning of my career, I was cast as a lot of pretty boys and I hated that. So I made an active decision to try and find coarser, harder characters to play, and that's worked out well.
"In the future, I want to try and be a bit more diverse, and not just playing hard guys all the time."
Whether or not he knew then that it was on the cards, the part of Grey - a billionaire industrialist with a thing for bondage and sadomasochism - would certainly be a departure for the actor.
He already has the body for any potential sex scenes though - the by-product of being a fitness freak and of playing Jax Teller, the hard-as-nails lead character on Sons Of Anarchy, a TV crime drama about a motorcycle gang in a small California town that enters its sixth season this month.
Moreover, Hunnam's first major acting job - the British television drama Queer As Folk, for which he filmed explicit gay sex scenes at the age of 18 - proved that he could handle getting raunchy for the cameras.