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NY Times: Charlie Hunnam: Pushy When It Counts (Picky, Too)

NY Times: Charlie Hunnam: Pushy When It Counts (Picky, Too)

Neither director wanted him, but then they took a look at him, and then he opened his mouth.

He was hungry, and pushy, and the director Guy Ritchie liked that. He was gorgeous, and charmed women and children, and the director James Gray liked that, too.

Charlie Hunnam is not exactly a household name in the United States, at least not just yet.

He is known in some quarters as the guy who backed out of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” He is known in others as the conflicted capo of a California motorcycle gang in the FX series “Sons of Anarchy.” Four years ago, he starred in Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” and a decade before that played a menacing albino Confederate in Anthony Minghella’s “Cold Mountain.” Across the pond, in his native England, he rose to fame as a teen, playing a coltish gay youngster in the breakout series “Queer as Folk.”

But all those parts did not make a breakout star of Mr. Hunnam, 37, not least because he has been enormously picky about roles. He once spent a few lean years living off an organic marijuana crop he cultivated in his Los Angeles home, he said, rather than taking jobs that left him cold.

“I can’t even believe I’m being this candid,” Mr. Hunnam said as he revealed his pot-growing days — they’re behind him now, he swears — over a lunch of seared halibut and spring peas at the Four Seasons in Lower Manhattan a few weeks ago.

Tall and V-shaped, blond and chiseled, Mr. Hunnam has been likened to Brad Pitt and Channing Tatum. Yet he didn’t carry the “here we go again” ennui or whiff of wariness that often permeates the air around celebrities. This despite the fact that he was in the thick of the press tour for “King Arthur,” the $102 million film Mr. Ritchie directed and helped write, in theaters Friday, May 12, with Mr. Hunnam as its star.

Scant weeks before, he had been out promoting Mr. Gray’s “The Lost City of Z,” which he starred in, too. By every appearance, the lean years are no more. Yet both films nearly eluded him.

Mr. Ritchie flatly refused to consider Mr. Hunnam for Arthur at first, not least because he envisioned a king with an action-figure physique. “There’s more fat in a chip than there is on Charlie,” Mr. Ritchie said in an interview. “I just didn’t think he was robust enough.”

Infuriated, Mr. Hunnam flew to London from Los Angeles to force a meeting that Mr. Ritchie couldn’t say no to because Mr. Hunnam’s manager is his close friend. Looking back, Mr. Hunnam said he was not sure how much he wanted the role; he just wanted to be seen. Yet within five minutes, Mr. Ritchie said, “I knew I loved him.”

The director continued, “When someone’s hungry and pushy and they can back it up with something, then it’s a wonderful conspiracy.” Mr. Hunnam was smart, meticulous and dived deep. He also hit the gym like a madman and, soon enough, looked like He-Man.

This in turn dismayed Mr. Gray, when, eight days after wrapping “King Arthur,” Mr. Hunnam showed up for a costume fitting for “Z.” The film is about Percy Fawcett, a real-life British explorer who disappeared in the Amazon in 1925 while searching for signs of an ancient civilization.

Mr. Hunnam recalled that the “Z” director “looked in abject horror at my body and said, ‘This is a disaster, this is nowhere close to the physicality that we need for Fawcett.’” Mr. Hunnam added: “I just looked like a superhero, you know? Stupid.”

All of which he managed to blame on Mr. Pitt. When he took his shirt off in “Fight Club” and “Snatch,” Mr. Hunnam said, he created “a new expectation of what a man should be.”

That said, Mr. Pitt was the one who got Mr. Hunnam the part of Fawcett. Mr. Pitt’s production company, Plan B, had tapped Mr. Gray, whose previous films include “The Yards” and “We Own the Night,” to write and direct the picture.

Mr. Pitt was to star but dropped out because of scheduling conflicts; then the lead was to be Benedict Cumberbatch, but his wife was about to give birth. Plan B suggested Mr. Hunnam, at which point Mr. Gray balked.

“I thought he was a Hells Angels kind of guy, which makes me feel like an absolute fool beyond comprehension,” Mr. Gray said, in a phone chat.

After learning Mr. Hunnam was British, Mr. Gray invited him over for dinner, making spaghetti and meatballs, which Mr. Hunnam dutifully ate even though, as Mr. Gray later learned, he avoids carbs.

“He was so warm and funny. My wife thought he was handsomest man in the world, and my son was obsessed with him,” Mr. Gray said. “‘Lost City of Z’ is all about feelings of inadequacy about class. He understood all that stuff, and spoke to it directly.”

For Mr. Gray, that was key. Like his character in the film, Mr. Hunnam burned with the need to prove himself. Continue reading

‘Lost City of Z’ actor Charlie Hunnam, reluctant star and existential Hollywood soul

‘Lost City of Z’ actor Charlie Hunnam, reluctant star and existential Hollywood soul

Most actors who dine in West Hollywood delis don’t talk to beret-clad strangers.?

And they’re especially not likely to be listening to one of those strangers deliver disquisitions about wine. ?

Yet, improbably, there is Charlie Hunnam — snappily dressed Brit, gritty-as-dirt Jax from “Sons of Anarchy” — at Greenblatt’s, Westside promised land of whitefish and latkes and his regular haunt. He is turned to the table behind him, eagerly receiving oenophilic wisdom from an older man in colorful headgear.??

“I came back from being outside doing this,” the British actor said a moment later, pointing to a vaping implement, “and he was drinking wine right in the middle of the day. So I asked him some questions,” Hunnam added with a wouldn’t-you-do-the-same? shrug. “He knew a lot — it was really interesting.”

Then again, Hunnam has long headed his own way. Since he started getting leading film roles in the early 2000s — in “Nicholas Nickleby,” or as the snarling ringleader in the soccer-fan drama “Green Street Hooligans” — the actor, 37, has shown a maverick streak. A working-class Brit who as a kid devoured American films and literature. A heartthrob-in-waiting who eschews heartthrob roles. A Hollywood creature who openly criticizes the Hollywood machine.

Hunnam is perhaps best known for the role he didn’t play, backing out of the Christian Grey part in the erotic drama “Fifty Shades of Grey.” It was the type of 11th-hour exit one rarely sees — a genuinely unexpected bucking of the Hollywood handbook that encapsulates his quirky independence.

But starting Friday, Hunnam’s fame could take on a new dimension: He’ll be seen on the big screen (really big, given the film’s 35 mm format) as the doomed British explorer Percy Fawcett in James Gray’s low-fi jungle-adventure “The Lost City of Z.” And next month, he’ll appear as the lead in Guy Ritchie’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” a stylish big-budget take on the 5th- and 6th-century English legend.

The two will show more of the under-the-radar-actor to the world, or at least the same aspects to more of the world. At a time of glib soundbites and Twitter fronting, Hunnam offers a refreshingly different kind of personality, a candid and considered soul seemingly trapped in a Hollywood-actor body.

In “Lost City,” he plays the real-life Fawcett with a thoughtful, at times sullen, seriousness. The former artillery soldier made repeated trips to the Amazon in search of a community he believed was the remnants of El Dorado, eventually disappearing there with his son in 1925. As Hunnam conjures him from David Grann’s nonfiction bestseller, Fawcett was not the swashbuckling adventurer at the start of his quest, nor the stark-raving mad Kurtzian figure as it went on — instead, he was beset by the kind of quiet preoccupation that destroys and nourishes in equal measure.

“For me, Fawcett represents the search for meaning we all have — that terrible and wonderful and ordained quest,” Hunnam said. “He wasn’t finding any answers in society; he found life wholly unsatisfying. So it was this voice asking questions: ‘What are we doing, and what is this desperate dark hole and how do I fill it?’ Most of us fill it with total nonsense — with consumerism. And he thought this quest would help quiet that voice.”

Hunnam tends to answer questions with a pause, followed by a rush of words, an attempt to get across a truth unbothered by spin, as though by simply speaking quickly and eloquently he could ward off the dreaded curse of the talking point.

He also evinces a dark view glinted — slightly — with humor.

“I don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the world. I really don’t. I suppose where it comes from is a deep sense of pessimism,” he said. “All the challenges we’re facing — the lack of water, overpopulation, climate change, social media.”

He waited the quickest poker-faced second to let the quip land, then continued, more gloomily: “I feel like we’re rapidly galloping toward an apocalypse — we’ve passed critical mass. I know it’s a morbid viewpoint. But I’m not melancholy. It’s just Trump or Brexit or whatever it is — what difference does it make? It’s hard to get invested in any of it.” Several times in the interview, he described feeling “existential and lost” at various life points. Continue reading

Charlie Hunnam Captivates on Screen, but He’s Even Better in Real Life

Charlie Hunnam is dancing within seconds of our introduction. “I just invented a POPSUGAR dance,” he says. “Do you want to see it?” I tell him that I absolutely do, of course, and soon he’s half bent over while punching the air with both arms, doing what can best be described as a victory dance.

When I admit that I’d kill to have his moves on video, he just laughs, taking a seat at our small table and sitting back in his chair, ready for what must feel like the millionth interview of the week.

If anybody deserves a victory dance right now, it’s Hunnam. The 37-year-old actor is in the midst of a jam-packed press circuit as the star of two of Spring’s most buzzed-about movies, King Arthur and The Lost City of Z. We meet during a press junket for the latter, a sweeping film about British explorer Percy Fawcett, and when he tells me that it’s been a busy two months, I know that’s quite the understatement.

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The Lost City of Z is based on a book by the same name from author David Grann. Set in the early 1900s, the movie follows the true story of Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett and Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson), who trek to the Amazon and find evidence of a previously unknown civilization. Fawcett’s adventures, while thrilling, come at a cost, as he and his wife (Sienna Miller) both grapple with the sacrifices they’re forced to make in the pursuit of Fawcett’s dreams.

To prepare for the role, Hunnam chose to make a few sacrifices of his own. “I decided I needed to sort of suffer,” he tells me. “I was a bit worried about everything that was going to be required for me in this film, so I wanted to do everything I could to cut down on the amount of acting required so I could just feel the experience.”

That translated to cutting himself off completely. He didn’t speak to his girlfriend of 12 years, Morgana McNelis, for four months. He also didn’t send any emails, make any phone calls, or go on the internet.

“It had the desired effect. I found myself feeling intensely isolated and lonely,” he says. “On the days where I was happy with the work I was doing, it felt like a valid sacrifice, and on the days where I was really unhappy with the work I was doing, I was just struck by the folly of it all, and the tragedy of it all, you know?”
He starts to laugh a bit. “In those moments, I would just fantasize about being home, cuddled up in bed with my girlfriend and my cat.”

I ask the important question: “What’s your cat’s name?”

“George,” he says, breaking into a half-grin that’s almost shy.

That’s how our conversation continues to see-saw, shifting from heavy to light in an instant, then back again. With quiet confidence and a loud laugh, Hunnam is charming. He’s a thoughtful, comfortable conversationalist, and a great storyteller.

He gets animated when I bring up a particular moment in the movie that captured my attention, one that happens to be a shot that he suggested himself. In the first half of the film, Fawcett and his crew are traveling along the river when a tribe starts to attack them with arrows. Fawcett holds up his journal to block one of the arrows, and in a dreamlike moment, the scene briefly flashes to his family. Continue reading

Charlie Hunnam Gushes About His Girlfriend, Reveals How He Prepped to Play a Dad

When it comes to Charlie Hunnam’s role in The Lost City of Z, we imagine it must have been hard to prepare. After all, the story is set in the 1920s and it’s all about a British explorer named Percy Fawcett who disappears into the Amazon jungle, hoping to find a long-lost civilization. That’s pretty far-flung from an actor in the 21st century, but Charlie was up to the challenge. We interviewed him at the LA premiere for the film, where he shed a bit of insight into his preparation process. And, well, let’s just say it wasn’t a walk in the park. In fact, there was quite a bit of sacrifice.

“In this film particularly, Fawcett made an enormous amount of sacrifice for his work. You know, he would go away, and obviously in a time when we didn’t have a lot of the technical luxury we do now, and he would be away from his wife for three or four years at a time. So, it’s always good to remove oneself as much as possible from the distractions of life when working, because it requires 100 percent absolute focus. But for this, also, it was played into specifically some of the hardship that the character that I was playing had experienced. So, it was sort of a no-brainer to me. Switch the phone off, switch the computer off, say, ‘All right, I’ll see everyone in four months.’ But, you know, I will say you have to have incredibly supportive and understanding people around you to allow you to do these types of things. I’ve been with my girlfriend for 12 years, and I said, ‘Would it be OK if we don’t talk for the next four months?’ A lot of people would say, ‘Go f*ck yourself.’ My girlfriend said, ‘Hey, listen, you know, I know how important your work is to you, so just go do whatever you need to do.'”

Aside from the whole “losing contact with everyone in your life” thing, there was another aspect of Charlie’s character that, at first glance, may have posed a problem. In the film, Percy has a son named Jack Fawcett, who’s played by Tom Holland (who will also star in Spider-Man: Homecoming later this year). Charlie isn’t a father (yet), so we were curious about whether he had trouble getting into that mindset.

“I have younger brothers that I have felt very paternal towards,” Charlie explained. “I mean, they have a father of their own, but they’re so much younger than me that I’ve always felt very protective and I’ve wanted to impart whatever gossamer amount of wisdom that I have to them. So, I guess, no is the short answer.”

With such a supportive girlfriend and that lovely family experience, it’s safe to say Charlie is a lucky guy.

Source: popsugar.com

Da Man: Charlie Hunnam Tells His Tale Of Being King

Da Man: Charlie Hunnam Tells His Tale Of Being King

KING OF THE STREETS. English actor Charlie Hunnam chats with DA MAN about the new, epic stories he will bring to life in the months to come

When you’ve played one of TV’s most popular anti-heroes and the most badass giant robot pilot ever to grace the silver screen, how can you ever top that? Well, Charlie Hunnam—who played outlaw biker Jackson Teller in hit TV series “Sons of Anarchy” and Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket in the widely-acclaimed “Pacific Rim,” among many others—is set to do just that this year with at least three major movie appearances. It starts with the epic “The Lost City of Z” which is based on a true story this April, followed closely by “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” where Hunnam brings out a more street-smart version of the legendary king this May. Later this year, he will also appear in “Papillon,” a remake of the immensely popular 1973 movie of the same name. And here to share the stories-behind-the-stories of these highly-anticipated titles is the star of all three himself.

DA MAN: Hi, Charlie. “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” is set to hit theaters this May. What would you say is the number-one reason to go see this movie when it comes out?
Charlie Hunnam:
Because it’s a cool, fun, fresh, original, badass, two-hour extravaganza. We have magic, fighting, pretty girls, pretty boys and a sh-tload of laughs. [Chuckles] If I had to sum it up with one adjective it would be “fun!”

DA MAN: We did a bit of research, and found that film adaptations of Arthurian legend date back all the way to 1904. What will this 2017 version do differently from its predecessors?
Charlie Hunnam:
Guy’s [director Guy Ritchie] sensibility as a director is very contemporary, so the style and tone of the film is completely fresh for this genre, and the story itself is very different from any of its predecessors. Arthur has always been portrayed as the noble man, who goes on a noble quest to become a noble king. Guy said, “let’s make Arthur a motherf—-r.” We are only telling the first chapter of the story, so making Arthur conflicted, angry and scared at the beginning gives greater breadth to his journey and makes for a more interesting character.

DA MAN: You famously said that you would do 500 push-ups a day to prepare yourself for the role. And you also offered to fight the other two finalists—Henry Cavill and Jai Courtney, if we’re not mistaken—when the issue of King Arthur’s physicality came up again and again. Were you really that confident that you could take on Superman and Captain Boomerang at once?
Charlie Hunnam:
[Laughs] Are you trying to get me into a fight? Okay, I’ll answer in order. Yes, I did an enormous amount of push-ups while making this film. Not always 500, sometimes less, sometimes more. The most I ever did was 1,050 in a day. There were also days I did none. With regards to fighting the competition … Sure, I’d take them both on. I actually didn’t know who the other dudes were but I love a good fight, and Guy kept pestering me about how skinny I was at the time. So, I said “F–k it, let me fight for the role.” All in good fun, though. I respect both those guys; I’m not trying to start any trouble. In the immortal words of RZA, “I’m vegetarian, b—h, I don’t want the beef.”

DA MAN: On a more serious note, you did bulk up impressively. How, exactly, did you do it?
Charlie Hunnam:
In the usual way, nothing exciting. I ate enormous amounts of food and worked out like a bastard every day. I prefer calisthenic-style exercises, so the majority of my training was pull-ups, push-ups, dips and non-weighted squats. I also boxed every day and did a bit of jiu-jitsu. Continue reading

Mr. Porter: Mr Charlie Hunnam’s Life After Motorbikes

Mr. Porter: Mr Charlie Hunnam’s Life After Motorbikes

Saturday morning at Claridge’s and it’s kedgeree o’clock. Mr Charlie Hunnam ambles in for our breakfast appointment in a private room at the back of the restaurant. For an actor who played a pumped – and frequently topless – biker for seven seasons of US TV drama Sons Of Anarchy, and who this year is filling the big screen as a mythic British king, a fabled early 20th-century explorer and a legendary convict escapee, the 36-year-old wears his charisma lightly. With his choppy hair, blonde stubble and elbow-patched, grey cotton shirt, Mr Hunnam looks more resting rocker than leading man. Fifty shades of grunge, anyone?

The Newcastle-born, LA-based actor studies the menu in the same quiet, thoughtful manner that, it transpires, he considers everything. He’ll have the vegetarian breakfast, please, with granary toast and a side of avocado. “I’m not a veggie,” clarifies Mr Hunnam in a soft Geordie accent still evident after 18 years in LA. “But I never see any point in meat at breakfast. I like a bit of smoked salmon, maybe a kipper. But I don’t do any sausages or bacon.”

I previously encountered Mr Hunnam in 2010, in his then-home on West Hollywood’s hipster thoroughfare, Melrose Avenue. He was about to begin filming the third series of Sons Of Anarchy. His was the hero role, that of Jax Teller, prodigal son of the founder of an outlaw Californian motorcycle chapter. Naturally lean, he bemoaned the gym time required to buff himself up to play the dynamic biker prince, and the concomitant loading up on white-meat protein. He was a long way from his breakthrough role, playing a callow, northern teenager in Mr Russell T Davies’ groundbreaking 1999 Manchester-set gay drama Queer As Folk.

“Now I realise that there are protein powders, vegan protein powders and all that shit,” Mr Hunnam says with a small smile of relief. “[Things] that feel a little kinder to the system rather than eating enormous amounts of solid protein every day.”

Even though he wrapped on the final 80-hours-per-week filming schedule of Sons Of Anarchy in 2014, fitness still matters to Mr Hunnam. But it’s the right kind of fitness.

“I have come to really like an active lifestyle,” says Mr Hunnam. “It was a bit of a challenge to begin with to find a routine that felt good. But equal to the physical rewards of feeling good and healthy and energised, just the mental clarity and emotional stability I find I get from working out have become pretty essential to my day-to-day life.”

A keen hiker, a legacy perhaps of a childhood spent in the Lake District, 18 months ago Mr Hunnam moved to a new home at the bottom of Runyon Canyon. “That’s lovely to have on the doorstep. I go up there most mornings about 6.00am, watch the sunrise. Sometimes double it up and go watch the sunset as well. And on my ambitious days, I do give it a bit of a run, but it’s usually just a fast walk.”

His neighbours are Ms Sam and Mr Aaron Taylor-Johnson. The first knock on the door to borrow a cup of sugar could have been problematic because, famously, at the 11th hour, Mr Hunnam dropped out of Ms Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades Of Grey film. In October 2013, it was announced that he was to play fabulously wealthy kink-merchant Christian Grey in the film adaptation of the gazillion-selling novel. A little over a month later, he quit. Northern Irish actor Mr Jamie Dornan gamely accepted the keys to the sex dungeon and disaster was averted. But it was a bruising time for all concerned.

Letting down Ms Taylor-Johnson, he admits, “was primarily the reason it was very, very difficult. And thankfully she is such a wonderful, kind, empathetic person, she understood. And we’ve actually remained friends.” Continue reading

Charlie Covers American Way Magazine April 2017 Issue

Charlie Covers American Way Magazine April 2017 Issue

Forget the abs, forget the jawline, forget the massive fighting robots — Charlie Hunnam just wants to be taken seriously

Charlie Hunnam doesn’t do Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. “I am so baffled by the whole phenomenon of social media,” he says. “To me, it speaks to going the wrong direction, trying to fill up this gaping hole that we all have in us.” The English-born actor is sitting at a table in his “office,” an unfussy restaurant on the Sunset Strip. He’d arrived for our interview 10 minutes early, dressed in a gray sweatshirt and jeans, waving a familiar hello to the employees on his way in.

In the nine years since he first appeared on FX’s cult hit Sons of Anarchy, Hunnam, who turns 37 this month, has become a full-fledged Hollywood hunk. He has scruffy blond hair, pale blue eyes and abs that look like they were drawn on by somebody at Marvel Comics. But he doesn’t talk like that. “I’m not interested in what anyone had for breakfast or what they think of these shoes they’re wearing or where they’re on vacation,” he says, continuing the social media theme. “This instant ability to like, dislike and cast immediate snap judgments on things—and being encouraged to do so—proliferates into our everyday existence.”

We’re here to discuss Hunnam’s new movie, The Lost City of Z (April 14), from We Own the Night writer-director James Gray. In the film, he portrays Colonel Percy Fawcett, the real-life British explorer who ventured into the Brazilian jungle in the 1920s in search of a lost civilization. Next month, he’ll play the lead role in Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. It seems that Hunnam is not just an unusually well-spoken actor, but an unusually hardworking one. He shot both films within a few weeks of each other, an arduous schedule that cut him off from the outside world—including his partner, jewelry designer Morgana McNelis. During the four months he spent filming Lost City in Colombia and Ireland, he didn’t even call her on the phone—all the better to immerse himself in the role.

“I have an incredible girlfriend. We’ve been together 11 years, and she’s incredibly understanding of my obsession,” he says. “There is an enormous amount of compromise that we’ve both made. We’re not married. We don’t have kids. That’s exclusively because of my obsession to fulfill this sense of personal destiny.”

Personal destiny is an idea that’s generally applied to mythical figures—like, say, King Arthur—rather than film stars. But Hunnam has deliberately placed himself on the margins of the Hollywood scene. You won’t see tabloid reports of him partying at local hot spots. He likes to spend his time cooking, he says, watching movies or exploring nature. Even for Hunnam, though, sequestering himself in the South American jungle for months on end seemed a little extreme.

“I wasn’t trying to be overly bullish or anything,” he says, adding that the Percy Fawcett role “just took on an enormous amount of importance for me, in terms of proving to myself what I was capable of. It was an opportunity to go as deeply into the work as I’d always craved. I was not going to let anything prevent that opportunity from manifesting and being as full as it could possibly be.”

Hunnam may be even more amped up about his role in King Arthur, which ties into a childhood fantasy. As a boy, one of his favorite films was John Boorman’s Arthurian epic Excalibur. “I just watched that over and over,” he says. “I was always whittling sticks into swords and trying to engage my big brother in sword fights and stuff like that.” Ritchie’s version is an origin story, inflected with the snappy banter and visual trickery of his early gangster flicks Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. “I was really interested in King Arthur and what Guy was doing with it,” Hunnam says. “It felt like an observation or an exploration of the ego and how we tell ourselves terrible things and create demons within ourselves.” He describes working with Ritchie as “a very visceral, immediate experience.”

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