Speaking with Screen Rant at San Diego Comic-Con last weekend, actor Charlie Hunnam (Sons Of Anarchy) talked about Pacific Rim, the upcoming science fiction epic directed by Guillermo del Toro. In the film, Hunnam’s character, Raleigh Antrobus, and Rinko Kikuchi’s character, Mako Mori, “use a “neural bridge” to link their minds in order to co-pilot an old model robot that could turn out to be humanity’s greatest hope.” Hunnam describes the basic story of the film as a classic love story, but with a sci-fi twist.
“Well, there’s this whole imminent apocalypse that really distracts from a lot of the psychological stuff going on between them, but it’s really more of a process of both of us opening up our hearts again enough to be able to trust somebody; it’s a love story without a love story. It’s about all of the necessary elements of love without arriving at love itself: I need to trust [Mako] and respect her and open up my mind to her.
“It’s so fascinating, the whole caveat of how we operate this machine – which is through a neurological bridge – we’re neurologically connected. So everything in my head is available to [Mako] – and vice versa. If you imagine that – I mean, we’re all very careful about how we present ourselves and what we say, and how much of ourselves we let out. And to just allow someone into your brain, to give them complete access to every thought, and memory, and f*#cked up thing you ever did – and every great thing you ever did – its really a big proposition. And for two very damaged people who have decided they’re going to keep it all inside because they’re terrible human beings who have made so many mistakes – to go through a process of opening up enough to allow someone access to your head – it’s really the heart of this film.”
I highly recommend checking out the full interview over at About.com.
Check out a few select questions from the interview below.
So are you and Ron Perlman an unstoppable tag team now?
“Apparently. [Laughing] It seems to be. I mean, of the last three movies I did, he was in two of them. And we’ve done, what, 60 hours of television together now. So yeah, we’re pretty familiar with each other.”
It’s a good thing you guys get along, isn’t it?
“It is, and we don’t always, you know, actually. We don’t always get along. Sometimes we annoy the sh*t out of each other, but I don’t know if it’s art imitating life or what, but it seems the occasions where we’ve gotten annoyed at each other, it’s just to serve the work, you know? You know it’s a very contentious relationship Jax and Clay have on Sons of Anarchy, so sometimes that bleeds into real life. You live with these characters, you live as these characters 80 hours a week for six months of the year [and you] can’t help, as much as you want to just shake it all off at the end of the day, that sh*t sinks into your psyche and affects ones behavior in unusual ways.”
Is your character in Pacific Rim anything like Jax?
“He is in [that] I think he’s like a solid guy, made of good stuff, you know, and like Jax Teller. Jax’s, actually, funnily enough is probably a little bit more sophisticated than this guy. But you know, I tend to – probably because I’m like that myself – play characters who have a lot of integrity and are going to do the right thing but don’t necessarily have like a lot of moving parts, you know? Like pretty simple dudes that like salt of the earth, old-fashioned type of guys.
“I grew up in a neighborhood with like really old-school type of guys. They don’t make guys like that. I feel like it’s a very forgotten area of the world, in northern England in Newcastle, and I just truly don’t think they make dudes like that anymore. And I feel so fortunate that I got to grow up around men…like, there isn’t a single man in my life until I left our neighborhood that had ever called the police, ever under any circumstances. You’ve got a problem, you deal with it yourself, no matter what that entails. You know what I mean? Those type of dudes. And so I find myself playing those type of guys a lot because I don’t think there’s a lot of people, a lot of actors, that were fortunate to have the experience that I had growing up that have actually been around legitimately bad, tough dudes.”
You don’t want to be famous but you’re the star of a Guillermo del Toro monster movie and people who don’t watch Sons of Anarchy are going to recognize you because of this. So what’s going to happen when you become really famous? What’s that going to do to you?
“Well, I don’t know. I don’t think it will affect me in any way. I mean I live such a private life and I’m so quiet. I don’t go to clubs and I don’t get into crazy relationships with starlets or anything like that so, you know, I think there’s a real choice. I mean, I don’t think Daniel Day-Lewis, and I’m, believe me, not comparing myself to Daniel Day-Lewis, but in terms of the perfect career, I think he’s someone to look to. He’s not in giant monster movies, but he is a very, very famous, successful actor who lives in complete obscurity outside of the business. It’s possible. People leave him alone.”
“I’ve lived in the same house for 10 years and I can afford to live in a much bigger house, a swankier house, but it just doesn’t excite me at all. What I think about is saving my money and buying a giant, giant plot of land somewhere and just like living off the land. Just live and be, and get in touch with what life is all about, and then come out of that occasionally and make a movie. I mean that’s always been my dream, that I could just live a little obscure life and then make movies once in a while because I felt from a very young age that I was like on the cusp of an existential crisis since I was about three years old. And I think that film, to me, for whatever reason, feels like a worthy enough endeavor to spend one’s life doing. Then you die at the end of it and you made two or three good films – that’s enough for me.”
I think this will be the most exciting season yet.
“I think by far and away. Because I’m a big fan of the show, I really love it and I – for my money – by far and away the best season we’ve done. Not just because it’s been such a big shift, but at this point the mythology of the whole show is like caught up with the characters and there’s so much depth. I mean we open, something happens over the episodes three and four that I think are gonna absolutely rock fans of the show to their very core and I can tell you that like, hands down, exponentially, deeper creative experience than I have ever had and I shared it with all the guys on the show. Like everybody felt that they had not only done the best work they’ve ever done in their careers, but it was the most satisfying, meaty, creative experience. There’s some sh*t goes on episodes three and four that’s just bananas.”
Be sure to check out the interview in full over at Collider.com, definitely a must-read.
Charlie, what do you think it is about your character that audiences will be able to identify with?
CHARLIE HUNNAM: I play a guy, called Raleigh, who, in this world that Guillermo has created, was one of the super-soldiers that pilot these giant robots. When you meet me, in the beginning of the story, I’ve suffered a giant loss. Not only has it killed my sense of self-worth, but also my will to fight and keep on going. And then, Rinko [Kikuchi] and Idris [Elba], and a couple other people, bring me out of retirement to try to help with this grand push. I think that journey is a very relatable one. Everybody, at some point in their life, has fallen down and not felt like getting back up, but you have to, no matter how difficult it is. That’s something that’s pretty easily relatable to audiences, I hope. The film is gonna be fucked, if it isn’t.
DEL TORO: When Charlie and Rinko’s characters meet, they’ve both lost a lot in the past. One of the ideas in the script is that two people who are really, really hurt can become one, both metaphorically and in life. When they meet, they’re two empty pieces and connect, almost like a puzzle.
Did you enjoy getting to work with Ron Perlman on this?
HUNNAM: You go through this business and you meet people that you bond with, and you get to go make movies with them. It’s wonderful. What I’ve always dreamt of, in my career, is to have a brotherhood of collaborators, and go in and out of working with them. I’m just starting to get that, and it’s really lovely.
Is there a specific name for these giant robots?
HUNNAM: When I found out the kind of spirit of the Jaeger that [Rinko and I] pilot together, it coincided, coincidentally, with a sub-category of society that I’ve been obsessed with, my whole life. I can’t give it away, but that this is the name of the particular Jaeger and what its spirit was, and I just felt, in a grandiose moment, that it was almost destiny for me to be playing this guy, just because the spirit of this robot is something that I have admired and, at periods of my life, tried to emulate. So, that was a really beautiful coincidence.