Despite the massive box office success and quick green light for sequels, there were quite a few roles left unfilled for last year's film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. Many have speculated, fan cast, and rumored about actors up for the roles of Elena 'Mrs. Robinson' Lincoln, Leila Williams, and Jack Hyde in the sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.
Back in January we learned that Oscar-winner Kim Basinger joined the cast as Elena, but we hadn't heard anything regarding the casting of Jack or Leila. Now that filming is set to begin in a matter of weeks, Universal has announced that Canadian actor Eric Johnson has been cast as Jack, and Australian actress Bella Heathcote has been cast as Leila.
Who exactly is Jack Hyde?
Jack serves as Ana's handsome but overbearing boss at Seattle Independent Publishing. You wouldn't know of Ana's employment at this publishing house seeing how it was left out of Fifty Shades of Grey, but he interviews and hires Ana for an internship position. Subsequently, things don't go over too well and he quickly becomes involved in her relationship with Christian. Hyde is described as an attractive 32-year old Princeton graduate. He is also a successful adopted child just like Christian Grey; a fact you shouldn't forget.
As for Eric Johnson, he is not to be confused with the former NFL player and husband to pop/reality-TV star, Jessica Simpson. He has been most recently seen in the Canadian cop-drama series, Rookie Blue, and the Cinemax series, The Knick. Johnson has actually had a fairly long and decent career in Hollywood, so he's definitely one of the more seasoned actors to join this franchise. He beat out fan casting favorites such as Henry Cavill, Jai Courtney, and Ian Somerhalder.
What about Leila Williams?
Leila is one of the 15 former submissives that Christian brought into his lifestyle. She is described to be, young mischievous, and somewhat dangerous to herself and others. Given her history with Christian, it's pretty needless to say that she gets a bit heated after seeing the mechanics of his new relationship. Not to mention Ana being a bit unsettled by the blatant physical similarities between her and Leila.
Bella Heathcote comes to Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed straight off the recent release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and has previously been seen in films such as In Time and Dark Shadows. She also served as a brief season regular for the Australian soap opera, Neighbours. Heathcote came out on top over fan casting rumors including Alexis Bledel, Lucy Hale, Cara Delevingne, and Kendall Jenner.
Are these major characters?
To answer it simply, yes they are important. The bottom line is both characters prove to be quite dangerous in their own right and they are both essential to the plots of both Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. For those who haven't read the books, it's also worth noting that both of these characters technically should have appeared in the first movie.
With that said, we still have no word on which other minor characters will be or will not be included in the next two films. Other characters left out of the first book that wind up being quite relevant to the plot include:
Ethan Kavanagh - Kate's older brother and friend of Ana's
Mrs. Gail Jones - Christian's housekeeper and personal cook
Dr. John Flynn - Christian's psychiatrist and friend
Ros Bailey - VP of Grey Enterprises and Christian's 'right hand woman.'
Ryan - Part of Christian's personal security team
Luke Sawyer - Another part of Christian's personal security team who is specifically assigned to guard and escort Ana around Seattle.
Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed are scheduled to begin filming simultaneously in Vancouver this February. Release dates for the films are February 10, 2017 and February 9, 2018.