Nearly two years after Charlie Hunnam dropped out of playing Christian Grey in the eagerly-anticipated E.L. James film adaptation Fifty Shades of Grey, he admits that the decision was "heartbreaking". "It was the worst professional experience of my life," Charlie tells V Man magazine, while also gracing the cover. "It was the most emotionally destructive and difficult thing that I've ever had to deal with professionally," the dashing actor adds.
The 35-year-old puts paid to speculation that his decision was down to the erotic nature of the film – it was in fact out of loyalty to his friend, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.
"I'd given Guillermo my word, over a year before, that I was going to do Crimson Peak," he explains.
The schedule that would have allowed him to keep his word and star in Fifty Shades, however, proved too much.
"I was going to finish Sons," he says, "fly to Vancouver the next day, have ten days of rehearsal, and then start shooting. . .Then I was going to have three days after that and I'd have to start shooting Crimson Peak and then I'd have two days to travel and go back into season 7 of Sons."
The actor admits that the filmmaker had plenty of time to recast his role, and that those around him questioned his decision to pass up on the chance to star opposite Dakota Johnson and catapult overnight to stardom.
"People were saying, 'Are you crazy?" he continues. "'Guillermo still has got four months to recast, it's the fourth lead, you can go and do this [instead].' I said, 'I can't. He's my friend.'"
The actor reveals the moment he broke the news to director Sam Taylor-Johnson: "I called her and we both cried our eyes out on the phone for 20 minutes," he says. "I needed to tell her that this was not going to work."