Though he’s more than 6,000 kilometres away, when Charlie Hunnam calls from his hotel room in Milan after Calvin Klein’s fall/winter 2015 men’s show, it feels like we’re slinging beers at a bar around the corner. Already boasting an impressive resumé and praise-worthy performances on the big and small screens (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim and Queer as Folk), the Newcastle, U.K., native chats with ELLE Man about throwing scissors, character deaths and getting in fighting shape.
What’s it like to go from playing Sons of Anarchy’s Jax Teller to your latest role as King Arthur? That’s a pretty intense character transformation.
“It was important for me to have a little bit of time to try to find some sort of centre before I jumped into a different character. It was actually really painful to say goodbye to Jax. I immediately stopped riding my motorbike. I know I’ll start riding again at some point, but I needed to get away from it all, just so I could find myself again.”
So you had to create some space between you and Jax in order to grieve?
“Having to say goodbye to that character was really heartbreaking for me. I have lost friends and family members before, and that feeling of bereavement—although this wasn’t as intense—it was that same feeling. I held it in my heart for about a month after filming ended. I said a lot of silent goodbyes to Jax, but ultimately there was no room left for him in my life, so I had to let him go.”
Masculinity is a significant theme in Sons of Anarchy. What do you think it means to be a man today?
“It means standing on your own two feet, living by your code of honour and being a rock for the people around you. But in the modern context, it also means being in touch with your feminine side. Men have to be strong enough not to repress their emotions; real strength allows for vulnerability.”
What’s the most rebellious thing you have ever done in your life? (Or at least what you’ll admit to publicly.)
“When I was 15, I was banned from going to Florence on an art-history trip by a teacher who generally thought I was a ‘menace to society.’ While he was away, I broke into his stash of acrylic paints and painted this giant crushed-up Coke can. It was maybe the best painting I’d ever done, but he ripped it up in front of the whole class. I was so angry and humiliated and sad that this thing that I loved and that I’d created was destroyed. I felt myself starting to cry, which was totally unacceptable to me at that time. We used to twist old art scissors into throwing stars, and I could hit a fucking bull’s eye, no problem. So I threw some of these scissors at him, and they landed in the doorframe parallel to his head. And that was it—they expelled me from school.”
Some people might say that doing onscreen nudity takes a certain rebellious attitude. And judging from your CV, you’ve certainly become comfortable with showing some skin onscreen—your current shirtless CK Reveal campaign included.
“The level of nudity that I do now, which is taking my shirt off, doesn’t bother me at all. But I have done full frontal before. I did full frontal when I was 18 on the TV show Queer as Folk. But because I was playing a 15-year-old character, the censorship people wouldn’t allow us to put it on TV.”
Would you be willing to do that now, almost 20 years later?
“I think when I was young, I was a little bit more fearless with that stuff. I don’t know…I’m sure I would; I have nothing to hide.”
Do you switch up your training routine when you’re getting physically ready for a role?
“I tend to do whatever I think is appropriate for the character. You’re playing the character, so go do what that character does—it’s going to bring you closer to him. For Arthur, he’s a great fighter, so I’m going to be fighting in the gym. And when I’m between jobs, I need to work out a lot for my sanity. If I weren’t an actor, I’d be the fittest motherfucker on the block.”
Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures’ announced production has begun on the epic King Arthur fantasy adventure with Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam as Arthur. The cast also includes Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as Guinevere, Djimon Hounsou as Resistance leader Bedivere, Aidan Gillen as Goosefat Bill, Jude Law as Vortigern, and Eric Bana as Arthur’s father, King Uther Pendragon.
Guy Ritchie is directing from a script by Joby Harold (Awake). Ritchie is also a producer on the action adventure film along with Harold, Lionel Wigram, Steve Clark-Hall, Akiva Goldsman, and Tory Tunnell.
Warner Bros Pictures is planning a July 22, 2016 theatrical release for the King Arthur film (previously known as Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur), with filming taking place in Wales, Scotland, and at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden.
“The bold new story introduces a streetwise young Arthur who runs the back alleys of Londonium with his gang, unaware of the life he was born for until he grasps hold of the sword Excalibur—and with it, his future. Instantly challenged by the power of Excalibur, Arthur is forced to make some hard choices. Throwing in with the Resistance and a mysterious young woman named Guinevere, he must learn to master the sword, face down his demons and unite the people to defeat the tyrant Vortigern, who stole his crown and murdered his parents, and become King.”
I’ve added additional photos of Charlie from a portrait session that was taken to promote The Ledge during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. You can view those and other photoshoot additions in the gallery now.
I’ve added captures of Charlie from the first film he took part in from 1999 titled Whatever Happened To Harold Smith? as the bully Daz. You can view those in the gallery now.
Crimson Peak arrives in theaters October 16th, 2015!
The film takes place in the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author (Mia Wasikowska) is torn between love for her childhood friend (Tom Hiddleston) and the temptation of a mysterious outsider (Charlie Hunnam). Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.
Eric Bana is set to play Uther, the father of King Arthur, in Guy Ritchie’s “Knights of the Round Table” for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow.
Charlie Hunnam will play Arthur, with Astrid Berges-Frisbey playing Guinevere. Jude Law is also in talks for the role of the villain.
Ritchie will direct with a script from Joby Harold. Ritchie and Harold are also producing along with Lionel Wigram, Akiva Goldsman and Tory Tunnell.
Plot details are being kept under wraps, though the pic is set to open on July 22, 2016. Niija Kuykendall and Cate Adams are overseeing for the studio.
The studio hopes the film can kick-start another franchise for Warner Bros., with the story to be told over six installments.
For Bana, the role isn’t the biggest, but the studio and Ritchie were always looking for a big name for the part to make a splash for the time he is onscreen, originally going to Liam Neeson before circling back with Bana.
Congratulations to Charlie! It’s very exciting to see so many new projects lined up for him. As a fan I could not be happier for his continued success.
Charlie Hunnam will star in James Gray’s “Lost City of Z” alongside Sienna Miller and Robert Pattinson. The project has just locked down financing from MICA Entertainment.
Sierra/Affinity will continue international sales at the Berlin Film Festival this week. CAA represents domestic rights.
Production is expected to start this summer. The project is based on David Grann’s 2009 book of the same name.
Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner are producing through their Plan B Entertainment along with Dale Johnson and Anthony Katagas. Marc Butan is exec producing with MICA Entertainment’s Julie B. May and Glenn Murray.
Hunnam will portray Percy Fawcett, a British surveyor who disappeared in the 1920s while searching for a mythical city in the Amazon jungles of Brazil that he believed he discovered on a prior expedition.
Benedict Cumberbatch had been attached to play the Fawcett part in “The Lost City of Z” in 2013 but opted last year to join Marvel’s “Doctor Strange.”
Hunnam is currently in production as the lead on Warner Bros.’ “Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur” from director Guy Ritchie. He will next be seen in Guillermo del Toro’s “Crimson Peak” and recently wrapped his starring role in FX’s “Sons of Anarchy.”