Get Excited About the Stars of '50 Shades of Grey' -- Even If You Don't Recognize Them

Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson may not be household names -- yet! -- but they will be great as Christian and Anastasia. Here's why!

After more than a year of speculation and false leads, we can finally confirm that the 50 Shades of Grey movie has its Christian and Anastasia! You'll never guess which actor and actress the producers cast. And that's because you've probably never heard of them.

First up, the enigmatic, sadistic and strangely irresistible billionaire Christian Grey will be played by Charlie Hunnam. Hunnam is a 33-year-old British actor, and you actually may have seen him on the big screen this summer: He played Raleigh, the lead character in the robots-versus-monsters blockbuster Pacific Rim. In fact, we think this clip offers a nice preview of what we're in store for with 50 Shades...

His biggest role, however, is Jax on the FX drama Sons of Anarchy. He's starred as the motorcycle gang rebel since 2008, and judging from the thousands of fan-made YouTube tributes, Hunnam's character has plenty of admirers.

Hunnam is also no stranger to sex scenes: In his early 20s, he had a racy role on the British series Queer as Folk. Check out a popular but NSFW clip of Hunnam getting busy with actor Aiden Gillen. Feel free to pretend he's kissing you, instead of the smarmy guy from Game of Thrones. Or go ahead and imagine him opposite Dakota Johnson.

Johnson, 23, has been cast as Anastasia Steele, the naive college graduate who finds herself captivated by Grey's world of kinky sex and obscene luxury. If you saw The Social Network, you may remember Johnson from her one scene, opposite Justin Timberlake. Here it is:

She also got to smooch Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street. That's a pretty good track record so far.

Like Hunnam, Johnson was born in England. Her parents, however, were not: they happen to be Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, whose famous affair spanned three decades.

As you can see, the two lead actors aren't total unknowns, but they're not household names, either. There are reasons for not choosing more recognizable actors (such as rumored casting choices Mila Kunis, Emma Watson, Robert Pattinson and Matt Bomer). For one thing, since there are three 50 Shades books, there will almost certainly be three or four films. That means the lead actors are locked into these roles, potentially, for years -- which would put many A-listers out of the running. Another thing to consider is that these two actors don't have strong character associations yet (unless you're a big Sons of Anarchy fan). Audiences are therefore more likely to see these actors as the authentic Christian and Anastasia.

And why not choose completely unknown actors, like the producers of Twilight did so successfully in 2008? Maybe because the 50 Shades movies are about grown-ups, not teenagers, and they need to make sure their two leads can carry a film. Hunnam and Johnson are relatively young, but they've already proved themselves in dozens of roles.

As previously announced, 50 Shades of Grey will be directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (who is a lady, thankyouverymuch), and hits theaters on Aug. 1, 2014. Expect more movie news in the coming months; the floodgates are officially open!

Donna Kaufman is a freelance writer and iVillage contributor. Find her on Twitter and Google+

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