Charlie Hunnam, the actor who turned down the Christian Grey role in Fifty Shades, tells Gemma Dunn he’s no action hero despite his latest movie about explorer Percy Fawcett, which was partly shot in Northern Ireland.
Charlie Hunnam is recalling a time when he embarked on a camping trip – sans mobile phone – with his long-term girlfriend, jewellery designer Morgana McNelis.
“We went into a big wilderness area in California called Kings Canyon”, begins the 36-year-old actor. “I didn’t take my phone with me and she kept saying, ‘Oh it’s going to be so romantic’, and I said, ‘It’s not romantic, it’s adventure, it’s survival’.
“We were going out into the wilderness for seven days,” he reports, animatedly. “And just three days in, we got horribly lost – and were completely lost for four days.
“I was feeling fairly confident two days in; by the third day I started to panic a little bit, and by the fourth, having no idea where we were and seeing no trace of humanity, I started to think, ‘Maybe I should have brought my mobile phone’.”
Holed up in a hotel room, Hunnam – best known as the fearless Jax Teller in the hit FX series Sons Of Anarchy – isn’t casually reeling off past misadventures.
His admission is in light of his latest role in director James Gray’s stirring big-screen tribute, The Lost City Of Z, partly filmed in Northern Ireland.
Swapping his motorbike leathers for camo chic, he leads the incredible true story of UK explorer Percy Fawcett, who journeyed into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovered evidence of a previously unknown, and advanced, civilisation.
Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment, the adventurer – supported by his devoted wife (Sienna Miller), son (Tom Holland) and aide-de-camp (Robert Pattinson) – returned time and again to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925.
Epicly scaled and multi-faceted, the drama – based on David Grann’s non-fiction bestseller of the same name – provided the change of pace Hunnam needed.
“I’ve been really lucky, particularly in the last few years, that I’ve been getting offered lots of diverse and really interesting things”, notes the actor, whose previous credits include Guillermo del Toro’s films Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak.
He also famously backed out of playing BDSM heart-throb Christian Grey in the film adaptation of 50 Shades Of Grey, which then went to Holywood-born actor Jamie Dornan.
He adds, though, this movie was about the acting rather than the great outdoors. “More than specifically looking for an adventure story per se, I was eager to work with a high-level director and work on a character that was really complex. Continue reading