Dakota Johnson Has Been a "Rock"—and Is Helping Them Pick a New Christian Grey, Says Fifty Shades Producer

"She's the best partner a producer could have," Michael DeLuca tells E! News at the Hollywood Film Awards

By Natalie Finn, Brett Malec Oct 22, 2013 2:57 AMTags
E! Placeholder Image

As the hunt for Christian Grey starts over again, at least the folks bringing Fifty Shades of Grey to theaters are sure of one thing.

Dakota Johnson is "our rock," Michael De Luca, one of the hotly anticipated film's producers, told E! News exclusively on the red carpet at the 2013 Hollywood Film Awards tonight. "She's just so Anastasia Steele. She's the best partner a producer could have."

So just how much sway does the 24-year-old Johnson have, now that she's the sole big name still definitively attached to the project after Charlie Hunnam's sudden exit last week?

Well, she does get to put the hopefuls to the test—the chemistry test, that is.

"She's helping us look through the candidates to see which chemistry kind of captures our attention," De Luca explained.

As for the rumors that Jamie Dornan is the frontrunner to replace Hunnam, the producer said that he couldn't comment—but he says that he really thinks that the role of Christian Grey will be refilled within the next month.

Watch: "Fifty Shades" Producer Gives Film Update

"We're looking on your website, we're looking under rocks in Zimbabwe, in space, on the moon. We're looking everywhere, but I think in a couple weeks it will be announced and everything will be cool," DeLuca said.

The filmmaker also said that the film based on the erotic E.L. James bestseller, to be directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, is still on schedule.

"We're on track. The release date [Aug. 1, 2014] is preserved and we're gonna kind of keep going," he said.

Not that losing Hunnam wasn't a blow, though.

"Charlie, I think, is an amazing actor of his generation or any generation, and we just couldn't make it work in the time he had to transform into Christian Grey," De Luca lamented. "But I think if itis meant to be itis meant to be. I'm convinced we'll work together again."