The British actor is easily recognizable from his role of Jax on “Sons of Anarchy” and in films such as “Children of Men,” “Pacific Rim,” and Crimson Peak.”
British actor Charlie Hunnam has been in the game for more than two decades now, and though the work has been steady, and his face is easily recognizable from both TV (the lead role of Jax on “Sons of Anarchy”) and films (“Children of Men,” “Pacific Rim,” Crimson Peak”), it seems that Hunnam, 37, is just beginning to hit his stride.
He’s currently starring as the explorer Percy Fawcett in “The Lost City of Z” and he’s got the title role in “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” which opens next Friday. Later this year he’ll be co-starring opposite Rami Malek in a remake of “Papillon,” taking on the part of Henri Charriere, originally played by Steve McQueen in the 1973 version.
Q: How familiar were you with the Arthurian legend before doing this film?
A: I had grown up really enjoying the John Boorman version of the story (1981′s “Excalibur”) and I had read “The Once and Future King.” But mainly I was excited about the idea of what Guy [Ritchie] would do with this world. Just the idea of making this fresh and young and exciting and accessible to a new audience. Because we’re only telling the first chapter of the story – it’s an origin story – when I initially spoke with Guy, there was an opportunity there to go a little deeper into what that story would look like.
Q: Were there any major challenges involved in immersing yourself into this medieval world?
A: The greatest challenge for me at the beginning was understanding the tone. We wanted to take the world seriously and the story seriously and give it the respect that it’s due. But then we also wanted to throw all of that out the window and tackle it with the appropriate level of irreverence and originality. So for the first couple of weeks there was an ambiguity with the tone, and we tried a lot of stuff. But a film sort of tells you what it wants to be. So with that, combined with the filmmaker’s creative true north, we found a path, and then it started to feel really good.
A: The thing that I could relate to most readily and that I was most excited about is the idea of the cultivation of self-belief, and subduing one’s inner demons in order to strengthen one’s disposition to the point to be able to go out and do great things and beat the insurmountable odds. That was the central theme of the film.I drew a lot of inspiration from [mixed martial arts champion] Conor McGregor. Guy and I discussed him a lot. I saw an interview with him where he was fighting Chad Mendes, and a journalist was asking him what specific challenges he thought Mendes would pose to him. And he said, “There is no opponent. I’m in the Octagon by myself,” which is sort of like the Bruce Lee philosophy: You’re in there fighting yourself. It’s all about self-belief and knowing what you’re capable of.
Q: You’ve been doing so much work, and you’ve got a lot out at once right now. Where do you see your career heading?
A: I’m incredibly grateful and delighted with how things are going, and I just hope to continue working with directors that inspire me, and doing a diverse range of films. Sort of more quiet films like “Lost City,” and big spectacles like this one, too.
But the one element that I want to introduce more is development. I’ve been developing some ideas for a few projects set up at three studios. I’ve been enjoying that, and it’s been a steep learning curve for me.
As actors we get to swan in at the last minute when all of the hard work’s been done, and just execute the vision, which is always exciting and fun. But then the rest of the filmmaking community has to put the whole thing together. I’ve been very excited about taking ideas from seed and trying to develop them. And I have aspirations down the line to direct a film at some point.